A healthcare company and its managing director have pleaded guilty to misleading The Pensions Regulator (TPR) about providing their staff with a workplace pension. Birmingham-based Crest Healthcare and managing director Sheila Aluko admitted recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR. They also admitted wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties.
On 22 March 2016, Sheila Aluko submitted a declaration of compliance to TPR claiming that the employer had complied with its duties. In fact, the employer had not completed the setting up of a pension scheme, had not automatically enrolled any staff and had not written to its staff to tell them about automatic enrolment.
It was only after a whistleblower raised the alarm – and TPR had executed a search warrant at Crest Healthcare’s offices and interviewed Sheila Aluko under caution – that the pension scheme was set up and the contributions were paid. Crest Healthcare and Sheila Aluko each pleaded guilty to one charge of knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR and two charges of wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties when they appeared at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 7 March. The case was adjourned for sentencing until 15 May.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrolment, said “While the majority of employers are doing the right thing, this case sends a clear message that it is unacceptable to dodge your pension responsibilities – and that we will take action against those who try to.”