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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999

Section 10: Late payments by employers to occupational pension schemes

Section 49(8) of the Pensions Act 1995 at present makes it a criminal offence for employers to deduct money from their employees’ salaries as contributions towards an occupational pension scheme and not pay it to the scheme trustees within a prescribed period, if there is no reasonable excuse. Regulation 16 of the Scheme Administration Regulations 1996 sets the prescribed period as 19 days from the end of the month in which the amount is deducted.

This section gives the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA) the power to impose a civil sanction for breaches of the requirement.

Subsection (1) replaces 49(8) of the Pensions Act 1995 with new subsections (8) to (13).

  • The time limit for payment of employee contributions will continue to be set out in regulations, under the new section 49(8).

  • The new section 49(9) gives the power to impose civil penalties for any breach of the requirement.

    It also imposes a new obligation on trustees and managers to report to OPRA and to the employee where employee contributions have not been paid within the time limit prescribed under the new section 49(8).

  • The new subsection (10) provides that OPRA may impose civil penalties on trustees or mangers if they fail to report promptly to OPRA when employee contributions have not been paid within the time limit.

  • The new subsections (11) to (13) impose a criminal sanction in circumstances where there has been fraudulent evasion of the obligation to make payment of employee contributions within the prescribed time limit.

    In relation to stakeholder pension schemes, subsection (13)(a) ensures that an employer who has been required to pay a penalty under section 3 of this Act for failing to comply with the employer access requirements in section 3, is not penalised again under section 10 of the 1995 Act.

Subsection (2) makes it clear that section 88(3) of the Pensions Act 1995, which provides for a civil sanction on employers who do not pay contributions to money purchase schemes on time, only applies to employer contributions (so that section 49(8) deals with employee contributions and section 88(3) deals with employer contributions).

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