The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has warned that employers who ignore their auto-enrolment duties could find themselves with a county court judgment (CCJ).
Data from TPR shows the number of fines associated with implementing workplace pensions has risen in parallel with the high number of employers now reaching their deadline to comply.
The regulator said between October and December 2016, nearly 3,000 fixed penalty notices were issued.
In the same period, 870 escalating penalty notices were issued.
TPR said a small number of employers have now been issued with CCJs after failing to pay these fines.
It said this can happen when employers persistently ignore penalty notices sent to them by TPR.
Employers failing to pay within 30 days of receiving a CCJ have the details entered on their credit record, affecting their ability to borrow money in future.
Charles Counsell, executive director for auto-enrolment at TPR, said:
“Burying your head in the sand and ignoring your legal duties means your staff are missing out on pensions they are entitled to and your credit rating and reputation could be hit.”
TPR said small employers can become non-compliant because they are more likely to leave things to the last minute but in most cases the nudge of a compliance notice is enough to get them back on track.
Andy Beswick, managing director of business solutions at insurance firm Aviva, said:
“No one wants to see small businesses being penalised for not complying with auto-enrolment.
“A workplace pension can be a great asset to an employer when it comes to retaining and attracting key staff. It’s also a legal requirement so ignoring it isn’t an option.
“There are a number of pension providers who have worked hard to make auto-enrolment as simple as possible for companies and advisers. With a bit of planning, the process of setting up a workplace pension is not as complicated as most people think.”