Providers must police employer pension contributions into auto-enrolment schemes but The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has relaxed its position on how missed payments are reported.
The code of practice on maintaining contributions has dropped the controversial requirement for providers to report ‘nil returns' to demonstrate compliance after industry concern.
Trustees and providers are now still required to monitor payments, ensure members have sufficient information to check contributions, and report material payment failures to TPR within a reasonable timeframe.
The guidelines make it clear, however, that providers and trustees should take a risk-based approach and will not be expected to gather payroll information, such as members' pensionable pay, "as a matter of course".
TPR executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell (pictured) said the vast increase in members and employers brought into the pension system by auto-enrolment had made the new code necessary.
He said: "The focus to date has been about getting this set up right, making sure employees know what their duties are, and about staging.
"Now we want to shine the light on ongoing duties. The most important part of that is making sure the money continues to flow into schemes after employees are put in. The success of auto-enrolment will depend on eligible job holders amassing a pot that will mean they have a better living standard in retirement."
Counsell said the regulator expected providers and trustees to attempt to resolve any disputes over contributions before reporting employers.
He said: "It has to be right that the two main parties involved in the transaction - the employer and trustees - have a set of processes and systems that work together to make sure that flow continues.
"Where problems inevitably arise, the trustees and pension providers are the ones who follow up and make sure the right amount of money is going into the scheme in the first instance."
Trustees and providers will be required to report employers where they have reasonable grounds to believe non-compliance is wilful or fraudulent, or the result of systemic failures the employer is unwilling to address.
They will also have to report contributions that have been outstanding for 90 days or more.
But trustees and providers will not be expected to automatically collect payment data to verify that members are receiving the right level of contribution.
The code advises instead that they look out for signs of increased risk such as a history of missed payments, the use of manual payroll processes or unexpected fluctuations in contributions
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