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Leaders told to offer pensions or face a fine.

North-East businesses are being warned they must offer their staff a pensions scheme or face a possible pounds 50,000 fine.

Baker Tilly Financial Services (BTFS), the financial services wing of accountancy firm Baker Tilly, say companies who employ five people or more must comply with pension regulations governed by the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (OPRA).

OPRA is already carrying out a series of spot checks on businesses across the UK to make sure their employees have the opportunity to join either a Stakeholder pension scheme or an alternative pension scheme.

Sarah Maguire, Financial Services Director at BTFS in Newcastle, said employers who have not yet complied with the regulations, which came into force in April 2001, could be fined up to pounds 50,000 by OPRA.

Ms Maguire said: "Every business with five or more employees must provide their staff with access to a Stakeholder pension scheme unless they can claim an exemption.

"The exemption applies to businesses that already provide access to a pension scheme where they contribute a minimum of 3pc of the employee's basic salary, and is open to employees over the age of 18."

During the course of their checks, OPRA will target companies who have recently expanded their workforce beyond four employees.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2003
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