Landmark ruling with auto enrolment pensions

By Sam Thomas | 14th January 2016 | 7 min read

The Pension Regulator’s (TPR) regulation of auto enrolment pensions has been subject to its first judicial review.

The High Court recently considered the case of Fleet Maritime Services (Bermuda) (FMSB) who argued that automatic enrolment shouldn’t apply to many of its workers. This was because many of its employees were sailors and pilots who regularly work for long periods of time in international waters. TPR stated that the location of a worker’s base was the primary consideration when deciding whether they fall within the definition of a jobholder under the Pensions Act 2008, and believed FMSB’s employees were eligible to be automatically enrolled. 

The Judge stated that workers who begin and end their tours of duty in a port in Great Britain may be considered as ‘based’ in the UK and therefore must be auto enrolled.

A High Court ruled in favour of TPR and went on record to say their approach was correct, and as such, FMSB must now enrol its employees into a workplace pension scheme under the auto enrolment program.

TPR’s Chief Executive Lesley Titcomb had this to say:

“The judge confirmed that our approach in this particular case, and our guidance on how to assess peripatetic workers for the purpose of automatic enrolment, is correct. He also made clear that decisions of the regulator based on the assessment of particular facts are not ordinarily suitable for judicial review.

“In addition, this case also demonstrates that where appropriate we are prepared to defend against judicial reviews and our commitment to upholding the principles of automatic enrolment.”

The case was interesting because it raises the issue of confusion where auto enrolment is concerned. If you are unsure about what to do or would simply like some help and guidance on auto enrolment, we have a range of help available by offering regular free webinar sessions. Additionally, we have also written a range of helpful guides to help you remain compliant.

IRIS offer the industry’s leading auto enrolment solution, the IRIS AE Suite™. The package has been created through close relationships with pensions providers, as well as TPR themselves. Click here to book your free demo and see how the IRIS AE Suite™ can help you and your business with auto enrolment.