What are the potential consequences if an employer breaches the employee protection provisions in relation to pensions auto-enrolment?

Where an employer breaches s.50 of the Pensions Act 2008 by engaging in prohibited recruitment conduct, the Pensions Regulator has the power to issue a compliance notice requiring the employer to remedy the breach, or prevent it happening again. The employer may be subject to a fine not exceeding £50,000.

Where an employer breaches s.54 of the Pensions Act 2008, which prohibits inducing a worker to opt out of a pension scheme, the Pensions Regulator has the power to require it to put the worker back in the position in which he or she would have been had he or she not been induced out of the scheme, by paying any arrears of contributions due. The employer may also be subject to a fine not exceeding £50,000.

An employee who is subjected to a detriment or dismissed for asserting the right to auto-enrol (under s.55 of the Pensions Act 2008 and s.104D of the Employment Rights Act 1996 respectively) can make a claim to an employment tribunal for compensation. Dismissal on auto-enrolment grounds will be automatically unfair and the employee does not have to meet the minimum service requirement to claim unfair dismissal in these circumstances.