UK - A Conservative government will investigate early auto-enrolment proposals "as a priority," shadow secretary of state for work and pensions Theresa May said.
Speaking at an Association of British Insurers conference the Tory work and pensions spokeswoman told delegates allowing companies to voluntarily opt-in prior to the 2012 deadline was "worth serious consideration".
Under current proposals employers are only mandated to enrol workers into a qualifying workplace scheme once the deadline has passed.
She said: "Under the current system, savers are being punished rather than rewarded. As the economy recovers from recession, we need to foster a new culture of saving in the UK. I believe that auto-enrolment is a necessary part of this and if allowing companies to opt-in early will help smooth the process of transition, it is worth considering."
May also revealed a string of Conservative pension policy measures ahead of next year's election and hinted the party could abandon the personal accounts scheme altogether.
She confirmed a Tory government would review personal accounts amid "serious concerns" over the prospect of levelling down - admitting revelations that contributions would only reach 1% by 2015 "could undermine the credibility of the system".
She also said industry calls for greater flexibility in the pensions system had been heard - although policy commitments only stretched as far as "having a look at" models of early access such as those currently used in the US and New Zealand.
She admitted work on the proposal was at an "early stage" and a timetable for implementation has yet to be completed.
This week's edition of Professional Pensions is out now.
Nearly 60% of UK employers consider defined contribution (DC) master trusts to be the "most suitable" pension fund for their employees, according to research by Buck.
Companies which have tried to dodge their pension duties by changing their identities are being "hunted" by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) in a crackdown on non-compliance with auto-enrolment (AE).
Removing liquidity restrictions would enable DC funds to capitalise on the potentially higher and safer returns that DB schemes have benefitted from, says Patrick Marshall.