The number of investigations into auto-enrolment compliance by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) that result in potential and actual breaches has more than doubled this year, according to a Freedom of Information request by Creative Auto Enrolment.
The request by the auto-enrolment services organisation found that investigations resulting in potential or actual breaches has risen to 47% since January, which means that half of all employers facing investigations could face sanctions.
This is an increase from 23% of non-compliance investigations that have resulted in breaches since January.
But the proportion of organisations under investigation after auto-enrolling their staff has fallen since the start of the year, according to the request, despite a number of small and medium employers having hit their staging dates.
David White, managing director of Creative Auto Enrolment, said: “It’s clear that many organisations are being left behind owing to a consistent lack of preparation in the market.
“The number of actual or potential breaches resulting from non-compliance investigations has risen seven fold in eight months, which is an alarming figure for UK firms.
“We have recommended that government ups the ante on its communications campaign, so we are pleased that last week its latest campaign was launched. We will be monitoring its effects with interest.”
Charles Counsell, executive director of auto-enrolment at TPR, added: “We do expect to see the number of breaches to continue to rise over the coming months as the number of employers subject to the duties goes up. As our knowledge of employer behaviour has developed over the past two years, so has our intelligence and resource allocation to tackling non-compliance.
“We adopt a risk-based approach in targeting our resources where they have the most impact and, although the number of investigations has risen, we have been very successful in working with employers to remedy breaches where they have occurred, without needing to use our statutory powers.
“We have also taken proactive steps working with high-risk employers to prevent non-compliance. Where we have taken enforcement action by issuing a compliance notice, this has given employers the necessary wake-up call to provide the pensions their employees are due.”