UK - OPRA has rapped Axa for scaremongering over claims that businesses face fines totalling £1.25bn for failing to set up pensions for staff.
Axa based its figures on a survey which found that around 25,000 firms still failed to offer any pension provision to their staff.
Axa said 16% of 400 medium-to-large companies surveyed did not offer their workforce access to any type of scheme and faced fines of up to £50,000 unless they took steps to change this situation.
The fund manager found that 25% of firms with between 11 and 25 employees did not have a pension scheme, against 12% for firms with between 26 and 100 staff, and 5% for firms with more than 100 employees.
By law, all companies with five employees or more must offer access to some form of pension provision.
Axa head of pensions marketing Steve Folkard said: “This is a major issue requiring urgent action.
“It seems that companies of all sizes are unaware of their legal responsibility to provide access to a pension scheme for all staff.”
But OPRA dismissed Axa’s findings and accused the firm of scaremongering.
It said ABI figures showed that the number of companies without any pension provision was closer to 14,000 and stressed that none had yet been fined for non-compliance.
A spokeswoman said: “The ABI figures at the end of last year showed that there was a 96% rate of compliance, which is very successful.
“OPRA is concerned that employers do comply with the law, but we haven’t had to fine anybody yet.”
She explained: “Companies tend to be reported by employees who want access to a scheme.
“And in the past when we have gone in, either the employer is exempt – because they have a group personal pension or an occupational scheme – or they are working with us to comply with the legislation.”
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