New pension rules put before Parliament
The new rules, which include the introduction of auto-enrolment from October 2012, are set to have a major impact on pensions for the public.
Yvette Cooper MP, secretary of state for work and pensions, said the new legislation was as significant as the introduction of the minimum wage.
She said: "Even during these difficult economic times, employers, industry and unions agreed with us that these reforms were vital in giving millions of people the chance to save in a pension for the first time."
Ms Cooper said businesses would be eased into the new rules that would see businesses paying into employee pension schemes for the first time.
She said: "All employers will be required to pay into a pension for their workers for the first time. We have responded to the concerns of business to make the introduction of these reforms as straightforward as possible.
"Start-up businesses will be given valuable extra time to prepare for these changes as we come out of recession."
Ms Cooper said the cost of doing nothing in the face of an ageing society was too great to ignore.
"Currently, 14m people get no contribution from their employer towards a pension, and around 7m people are not saving enough for their retirement," she said.
Angela Eagle, minister of state for pensions and the ageing society, added: "Along with our changes to the state pension from April, we will ensure pensions are fair and sustainable in the longer term.
"It is essential we get the foundations right and continue to focus on minimising any process burdens on business.
"With the publication of the regulations, we take a big step closer to automatic enrolment from 2012, moving from consulting with employers into a phase where we explain in clear and simple terms what their obligations will be."
The announcement came last week as the Department of Work & Pensions published orders to establish the new Personal Accounts corporation - the National Employment Savings Trust corporation.