Is Workie working?


Just before Christmas I spoke about Workplace Pensions at a local event attended by a group of our town’s independent retailers. In a room of 20 or so people, most of them employers, not one of them could recall ever seeing or hearing The Pensions Regulator (TPR) ad campaign featuring Workie.

Since the start of the year I’ve spotted Workie a few times in prime-time ad breaks, so perhaps awareness is increasing. But as somebody pointed out to me when I posted a blog about this on Linkedin, many people record TV and fast-forward the ads so will probably never glimpse the elusive Workie.

Maybe this is why 10% of the first small employers required to put their staff into a workplace pension have not complied with the law. TPR stats show:

  • 4,818 compliance notices have been issued
  • around half of these (2,596) were issued between October and December last year
  • a total of 1,594 £400 Fixed Penalty Notice fines have now been issued to employers
  • just over a thousand (1,021) Fixed Penalty Notices were issued in the last quarter of 2015

While it’s obviously good news that 90% of employers have complied with legislation the other 10% have either been unaware or hidden in the cupboard, hoping the horrible pension monster will go away and leave them alone.

Workie must work harder

There are still many misconceptions among small business owners that the Workplace Pension legislation doesn’t apply to them; because their staff are part time, they employ casual or seasonal workers, their staff are over 60 etc. Sitting among these local employers I was able to register the shock on their faces and their dismay when they realised that the legislation DOES actually apply to them.

Clearly a lot more work is needed to get across the serious message that every employer of any size needs to take note of their duties regarding Workplace Pensions. I do question whether ‘Workie’ is really grabbing the attention of its target audience. With its friendly monster features is it being overlooked or simply mistaken as a children’s TV/film character?

If Workie is here to stay, he needs to work harder!


About Author

Hayley Whitten

Hayley is managing director of Frome-based Biznus Payroll. The company was established in 2001 and provides a professional payroll service to small businesses throughout the UK. Hayley is a self confessed auto-enrolment geek and is continuously assessing the most cost effective ways to administer the burdensome legislation for SMEs. Having advised her existing clients, answering their auto-enrolment questions and helping them to meet their pension obligations, she’s now well placed to comment on AE issues that are already causing headaches for small business owners. Hayley can be contacted at Biznus Payroll on or visit

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