Opra is to state on its website which pension providers place restrictions on the type of corporate ...
Opra is to state on its website which pension providers place restrictions on the type of corporate stakeholder business they will accept, writes Simon Falush.
The regulator appears to be taking a tough line on companies which do not have a designated stakeholder provider by the 8 October deadline. It said the only way of getting out of a fine would be to provide clear and demonstrable evidence that an effort had been made to comply with the regulations.
Some companies are finding it hard to find a provider who will accept their business, according to Nigel Stammers, manager of pensions strategy at Clerical Medical. He said many providers are cherry-picking the more lucrative schemes, leaving smaller employers or those in particular industries where people are on lower salaries unable to find a provider.
Clerical Medical closed to new group pension business last month while Scottish Amicable stopped paying commission on group pensions products two weeks ago. Stammers said it would be unfair to punish those who had not complied with the regulations if they had trouble in designating a provider
The Institute of Directors (IoD) also argued that blanket fines for companies who fall foul of the 8 October deadline would be harsh and unfair and said the way fines are to be imposed may be in breach of the Human Rights Act.
Richard Baron, deputy head of the policy unit at the IoD, said it was important that cases were dealt with according to their circumstances and that the imposition of charges could be subject to challenge on human rights grounds where companies are not given the appropriate right to a fair trial.
Not all industry bodies are critical of the way stakeholder regulations are being enforced. A spokesman from the CBI said: 'Employers have had 18 months to get stakeholder up and running. We are concerned about the low level of take-up but the deadline has to kick in at some time and it is important that people obey the law.'
The tough line being touted by Opra now contradicts the earlier signals being given out that companies who were overburdened with other red tape would have time to to get stakeholder compliance into place after being warned of their non-compliance.
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