Work and pensions secretary John Hutton has pledged to ease the burden on small firms if, in future, they are compelled to contribute to staff pensions.
Forcing employers to contribute to employee pensions is a key proposal of the government’s Pensions Commission.
The government is expected to incorporate the proposal into its upcoming White Paper on pensions.
Hutton told a small business group he would strive to soften the blow of paying into staff pensions.
“We’ve got to be mindful of the burden this would impose on small employers, as well as the potential employment implications,” he told delegates at a Federation of Small Business conference.
“So let me make one thing clear: should we go down this road, we will have to look very seriously at how these burdens can be minimised,” he added.
A DWP spokesman refused to clarify how the government planned to ease the burdens on business, as this would be “pre-empting the publication of the White Paper”.
The National Pension Savings Scheme (NPSS), funded through employee and employer contributions, was a key proposal of the Pensions Commission’s report last December.
Ever since, business groups have warned of negative effects on business costs and jobs.