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Automatic enrolment easements to be lifted from January, regulator reveals

Pension flexibilities afforded to employers throughout the coronavirus pandemic will be removed from 01 January 2021, it has been revealed.

The announcement forms part of The Pension Regulator’s latest Covid-19 guidance for defined contribution (DC) workplace pension schemes.

It comes after the regulator extended the maximum period DC pension schemes and trustees had to report late contribution payments from 90 to 150 days. The measure, which came into effect from March, gave struggling employers more time to work with pension providers to bring late or missing payments up to date before enforcement action was taken.

However, after a scheduled review of the guidance this month, it has been decided that DC schemes and providers will be asked to resume reporting late contribution payments no later than 90 days after the due date from 01 January 2021.

From 01 October 2020, meanwhile, all other types of enforcement will “start to return as normal”.

This includes, for example, the requirements for schemes to submit audited accounts and investment statement reviews, as well as chairs’ statements.

Commenting on the updated guidance, Mel Charles, Director of Automatic Enrolment at TPR, said: “At the start of the pandemic, we took decisive and proportionate action to support employers and trustees through these challenging times. With businesses and schemes adjusting to a new normal, now is the right time to return to our usual reporting and enforcement.

“We have been clear that employers continue to have to pay contributions in full and on time and schemes have continued to refer serious automatic enrolment breaches to us which may require enforcement action to ensure compliance and to protect savers.

“Our indications are the majority of employers are paying their contributions in full and on time and we have not seen any unusual increase in reports of late payments by pension schemes.”

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