Bus services organisation Stotts Tours Oldham and its managing director have been found guilty of failing to automatically enrol 36 employees into a workplace pension.
The Greater Manchester-based organisation and its managing director Alan Stott pleaded guilty to eight counts each of wilful failure to comply with automatic-enrolment duties under the Pensions Act 2008 at Brighton Magistrates Court on 10 November 2017.
This is the first time that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a prosecution for these particular offences, and the case has been adjourned for sentencing until 14 December 2017.
TPR found that 36 employees at the bus services organisation should have been placed into a workplace pension scheme, and that payments should have been being paid from June 2015. TPR decided that the organisation’s non-compliance was deliberate and merited the criminal prosecution of both Stotts Tours Oldham and Alan Stott. It launched its prosecution process in September 2017.
The prosecution action accused Stotts Tours Oldham of not complying with section 45 of the Pensions Act 2008, which states that employers must make prescribed arrangements by which employees become active members of an automatic-enrolment pension scheme. Alan Stott was accused of failing to comply with section 46 of the Act, by either consenting or conniving in the organisation’s offence, or allowing the offence to be committed by neglect.
Wilful failure to comply with automatic-enrolment duties is a criminal offence, and the maximum sentence that can be imposed in a magistrates’ court is an unlimited fine. If the case had been heard in a crown court, the maximum sentence that can be applied is two years’ imprisonment.
TPR is separately pursuing Stotts Tours Oldham for £14,400 in civil fines imposed for non-compliance.
Darren Ryder, director of automatic-enrolment at TPR, said: “Dozens of staff at the [organisation] were entitled to workplace pensions but were denied them because their employer deliberately failed to set them up.
“Automatic-enrolment is not an option, it is the law. Employers should be in no doubt that if they wilfully refuse to become compliant they could end up with a criminal record; and will still have to give their staff the pensions they are due.”
Stotts Tours Oldham was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.