This week has seen The Pensions Regulator get tough on a high street footwear firm that said it was "too busy" to meet its auto enrolment obligations. The case has prompted a fresh warning to employers by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) not to ignore their automatic enrolment duties.
The company, Johnsons Shoe Company which has high street stores across the UK was originally issued with a fixed penalty notice of £400 after it failed to comply with the UK laws on automatic enrolment and enrol its eligible staff into a workplace pension. The company paid the fine and began a dialogue with The Pensions Regulator but still do not become compliant with their auto enrolment obligations. Despite repeated reminders that without action the fine would increase by £2500 per day if it did not meet its obligations, the company, which is based in Shepperton continued to flout its obligations under the law and this resulted in the fine reaching £40,000.
This prompted the firm to become compliant with its auto enrolment. However, in another twist to the take, Johnsons then refused to pay the fine, forcing The Pensions Regulator to take them to court to secure payment of the fine. Johnson's eventually agreed to pay the fine as well as an extra £2000 of court costs, preventing the matter from having to go through a full court hearing.
Talking about the situation, Charles Counsell, TPR's executive director of automatic enrolment, said: "The failure by Johnsons to act, despite our repeated warnings, left it with a completely unnecessary bill that was more than 100 times the amount it was originally fined."
"The vast majority of employers meet their automatic enrolment responsibilities. We will use all the powers available to us against the minority who choose to ignore their duties."
"Our message is clear: fail to comply with the law and you may be fined. Fail to pay your fine and we may take you to court."
To date, Johnson's Shoe Company have not issued a statement or comment on the matter.