The Pensions Regulator has reviewed its approach to reduce the regulatory burden on trustees, employers and providers during COVID-19.
The watchdog said it will adopt a more flexible and pragmatic approach to what must be reported, and when to take action, to ensure there is focus on essential activities that need to be done to keep schemes running during the pandemic.
TPR’s updated guidance explains:
On reporting requirements - if the breach can be rectified in less than three months and doesn’t negatively impact savers – there’s no need to report it. But a record should be kept of any decisions and actions.
On enforcement - in making decisions about regulatory action in respect of breaches of administrative and compliance requirements, TPR will do so on a case-by-case basis and adopt a flexible approach, for example, granting longer compliance periods.
TPR has also issued new guidance specifically for employers, which includes:
The guidance provides further information for employers about maintaining pension contributions.
TPR said that while the minimum correct contributions must be made on time, information it has published highlights flexibilities available to employers during this time.
Employers concerned they will struggle to make their contributions are urged to speak to their pension provider. TPR has written to providers asking them to be as flexible as possible when agreeing contribution payment dates.
The period in which schemes must report payment failures has been extended from 90 days to 150 days, to give trustees and providers more time to work with employers to bring payments up to date.
Employers can also access information, which will be updated again in due course, about the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which allows them to claim back minimum AE employer contributions for furloughed staff.