Employers that refuse to pay workplace pension fines could have their assets seized to pay their debts.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) issues fines to employers that fail to meet their automatic enrolment duties and can secure court orders if the debts are not paid.
TPR is to now appoint High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs) to enforce court orders in England and Wales, and the equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland, on those employers that have refused or failed to comply.
If an employer does not pay its debt, HCEOs could visit the business premises to remove items to sell, to the value of the amount owed - this could include the employer’s vehicles.
TPR said that unlike bailiffs, HCEOs have the power to force entry to locked commercial premises to seize assets.
Separately, TPR will consider whether it should prosecute employers that remain non-compliant with their automatic enrolment duties despite being given a court order demanding they pay the fines they have incurred.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrolment, said: “Automatic enrolment is not an option, it’s the law. Those who break the law by denying their staff the pensions they are entitled to should expect to be punished – and must pay any fines they are given.
“Automatic enrolment has been a huge success thanks to the vast majority of employers who do exactly what they should, but a tiny minority not only ignore their automatic enrolment duties but fail to pay their fines, even after the courts have ordered them to.
“The use of HCEOs is a last resort for us. Unfortunately the behaviour of a tiny minority means it may be necessary.”
HCEOs will also be used to collect payment for other fines or levies issued by TPR that trustees or trust managers fail to pay, such as for chair statement and scheme return offences.