New criminal offences and unlimited fines: what employers need to know about the Pensions Regulator's new powers

In light of the draft Pension Schemes Bill 2019/2020, many corporate groups with defined benefit schemes will need to begin to think about the changes that may take place. However, please note that the Bill is still in draft form, with the second reading in the House of Lords having taken place on 28 January 2020.

After the Carillion and BHS debacles, the Pensions Regulator (tPR) announced it was going to be "clearer, quicker and tougher". The new Pension Schemes Bill (the Bill) currently going through Parliament will give tPR significant new powers so it can beef up its approach. Corporate groups with defined benefit pension (DB) schemes should understand the Bill’s new requirements because failure to comply could result in large fines or being charged with a criminal offence.

For corporate groups with DB schemes, this is the most significant change in regulation since the Pensions Act 2004. The key message is be alert to anything that could weaken the financial position of the employers supporting the DB scheme or that could prejudice the DB scheme in an insolvency. In these circumstances, exercise caution and take advice.

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