Pensions regulator issues auto-enrolment guidance for pandemic

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued guidance covering automatic enrolment and employer contributions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Regulator said it recognises the strain employers are under during the crisis and is taking a 'proportionate and risk-based approach'. The TPR has written to pensions providers asking them to be 'as flexible as possible' when agreeing contribution payment dates.

It has extended the period in which schemes must report payment failures from 90 days to 150 days in order to give trustees and providers more time to work with employers and bring payments up to date.

The TPR advised businesses that have furloughed staff to claim back minimum auto-enrolment employer contributions using the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The Regulator also issued new employer guidance on what employers need to know about payroll, re-enrolment responsibilities and what to do if employees ask to opt out or reduce their contributions.

Joe Turner, Head of Automatic Enrolment at the TPR, said: 'These are unprecedented times and we are acutely aware of the pressure employers are now under. While employers continue to have responsibilities, we are weaving in as much flexibility as possible to help employers and protect savers.'

The guidance forms part of the Regulator's wider package of measures to safeguard pensions against the challenges of the pandemic.