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Pensions

Senior recruitment staff could face prison over pension scam

Senior recruitment staff could face prison over pension scam

Mona Dohle
Thursday 7th June 2018

Senior members of staff for recruitment firm Workchain Ltd could face prison for impersonating temp workers in order to opt them out of their workplace pension scheme.

The case, which was brought forward by The Pensions Regulator (TPR), is the first time that the UK watchdog has prosecuted an employer for unauthorised access to computer data.

Two directors and five senior members of staff, including Workchain’s financial controller, HR and compliance officer, and three branch managers have pleaded guilty to the accusations at Derby Magistrates Court today.

The case has now been forwarded to the Crown Court, where they could face a maximum prison sentence of up to two years and an unlimited fine.

The recruitment agency, which has offices across the Midlands and the neighbouring counties, has encouraged senior staff to log into the company’s online portal for the NEST pension system on behalf of temporary workers in order to opt them out the company pension scheme so that the company would not have to make payments on their behalf.

The case was first flagged up when NEST reported concerns about Workchain to the regulator, which subsequently launched a joint investigation with the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, Derbyshire Constabulary and Nottinghamshire Constabulary.

Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of Automatic Enrolment, comments: “Workchain’s directors saw denying their temporary workers pensions as a quick and easy way to save the company money.

“Automatic enrolment is not an option, it’s the law and the law is clear – no one can opt a worker out of a pension scheme, even if the worker agrees. Those who try to avoid their pension responsibilities in this way face prosecution” he stresses.

The sentencing hearing at Derby Crown Court will be on 28 June 2018.

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