Small to micro employers will be given a "significant easement" of £1.7bn in the roll-out of auto-enrolment, under government plans to delay both staging and contribution rates.
In a consultation published today, the Department for Work and Pensions unveiled revised a revised timetable that will extend the implementation of auto-enrolment until February 2018.
The move confirms that no employer with fewer than 50 workers will have a staging date before the next parliament in 2015.
All employers will also benefit financially from a delay to the increase in minimum contribution rates from 1% to 2% until 1 October 2017.
The department said these changes would save employers £2.9bn - with a £1.7bn saving just for small and micro employers.
The revised programme would save the Treasury £1.1bn in tax relief contributions, but reduce the level of pension saving by £7.9bn, delay the entry of 4 million workers into pensions and reduce the revenues for the industry.
Pensions minister Steve Webb commented: "Automatic enrolment will begin on time this October, taking up to 10 million people into pension saving, and all employers will be part of it.
"We have done all we can to ease any burden on business the reforms will bring and employers of all sizes will now have greater clarity on when they will start enrolling their staff."
Employers with an existing staging date of on or before 1st February 2014 will retain their original dates.
Medium employers -with 50 to 249 workers - could face an earlier staging date of up to a month as their dates are re-allocated between 1 April 2014 and 1 April 2015, but the DWP said most will have later dates than they had under previous arrangements.
Some 1.3 million small to micro employers will have their staging date delayed by at least 14 months - with a small number set to get an 18 month extension.
The government will consult on these proposals until 4 May.
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