Private sector employers in Northern Ireland have been warned to prepare for big changes in staff pension provision.
Pension expert Robert Birmingham, managing director of Xafinity Consulting, told Northern Ireland business leaders at a seminar in Belfast this week that lack of action now could mean firms playing catch-up for decades.
From October 2012 all employees earning over £7,475 in Northern Ireland will be automatically enrolled in a pension scheme.
Mr Birmingham said the new arrangement will be one of the biggest significant changes to take place since the introduction of state pensions in 1909.
The number of pensioners in the UK is set to surge by 33% by 2050 and once introduced, the new measures could increase pension uptake by 80%.
Mr Birmingham said: "A recent study by the Institute of Directors found that the 2012 deadline is likely to impact small businesses most with 43% indicating they don't have pension arrangements for employees where the employer contributes.
"Even those companies already providing a pension scheme will have to re-assess their existing arrangements."