Three firms who failed to auto enrol their employees into a pension scheme before their staging date deadline have been fined £400 by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
It is the first time that employers haven been fined for failing to meet their auto enrolment requirements.
An update from TPR also shows there has been a surge in the number of compliance notices issued by the regulator over the last four months.
TPR issued 163 notices between July and September 2014, compared to just 14 between the start of the auto enrolment programme in October 2012 and July this year.
A survey of small and medium sized employers revealed the vast majority of SMEs yet to hit their staging date want a pause while the Budget pension reforms pass through parliament.
Staging dates for firms are based on the number of employees and run until February 2018.
More than 33,000 large and medium employers have already begun auto enrolling staff, with a further 1.25 million due to hit their staging dates over the next three years.
TPR executive director for automatic enrolment Charles Counsell said: “As we deal with smaller employers, we will see more who, despite our message to prepare early, leave it too late or do not comply at all.
“This type of non-compliance is not acceptable. We expect to see the number of times we need to use our powers increase. The regulator has a range of powers to tackle non-compliance including serving fixed penalty notices and escalating daily penalties notices.”
John Allan, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, commented: “Auto enrolment is an entirely new major piece of regulation and it is vital for small businesses to get to grips with it as soon as possible.”