Recruitment agency must pay £10,890 for false claims surrounding auto-enrolment

18 December 2019

SKL Professional Recruitment Agency Ltd and its managing director, Lee Kadzere have been sentenced for knowingly failing to comply with auto-enrolment legislation and not adhering to their workplace pension duties. This is a stark reminder to businesses and to payroll professionals alike that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is taking non-compliance very seriously and that the associated penalties can be significant.

The TPR issued a press release to confirm the outcome of the case. Mr Kadzere had falsely informed TPR that his company automatically enrolled 22 staff members, but obviously this was not the case. On 17 December 2019, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, Judge Szagun ordered Mr Kadzere to pay £1,300 plus a victim surcharge of £120 and SKL were fined £6,000 plus another victim surcharge of £120, in addition to prosecution costs of £3,350. The total equated to £10,890 – a figure that the company would not have been charged, should they have honoured their auto-enrolment duties correctly.

As reported in the CIPP’s News Online back in August and November, TPR launched an investigation into the company following whistleblowing reports from staff. It became apparent that a pension scheme had been set up, but staff members had not been enrolled into that scheme and nor had the deductions taken from employee’s pay each period been paid into the scheme.

District Judge, Teresa Szagun denounced Mr Kadzere as ‘reckless’ and stated:

“Failure to comply has a detrimental economic impact not only for the individuals concerned but for society as a whole.”

SKL recruitment specialised in providing staff members to work within the care sector across Edinburgh Mews, Bushey and Hertfordshire. Mr Kadzere, who originates from Middlesex, pleaded guilty to three charges of wilfully failing to comply with automatic enrolment duties under section 45 and 46 of the Pensions Act 2008 and one charge for recklessly providing false information to TPR under section 80 of the Pensions Act.

Darren Ryder, the current Director of Auto Enrolment at TPR commented:

“TPR will not stand by if an employer willfully fails to meet their responsibilities towards their staff - we will take action to make sure workers get the pensions they are due.”

Mr Ryder is due to leave TPR in early 2020 after working for the company for a duration of eight years.

Now that the Conservatives have been re-elected, many anticipate that their attention will, at least in part, be directed towards expanding on the pledges of the Pensions Bill, which was discussed in their manifesto and within the original Queen’s speech. The Bill promised to give greater powers to TPR in terms of identifying and tackling unscrupulous employers.

 


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