Pensions minister Steve Webb says the upcoming consultation on defined ambition will not set out prescriptive single-model options for enhanced defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) provision.
The minister confirmed to Westminster Employment Forum delegates that the paper, which will be published "very shortly", will focus on three strands: flexible DB; risk sharing; and risk pooling, or collective DC (CDC).
Webb said time is "running out" to get options on the table for private sector employers still running DB schemes.
He explained: "Contracting-out ends in 2016. Big occupational schemes that are still left in the DB space are making decisions over the next year.
"Some of them are consulting today, and those schemes need to know what their options are if they're going to stay in anything that looks like a DB space."
Webb quoted figures from The Purple Book, published jointly by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Pension Protection Fund (PPF), which showed about 1.9m private sector employees still had access to a DB scheme.
He said: "That's a hell of a lot less than it used to be, but it's still worth having.
"If we can do things that make firms feel it's worth staying in something that looks like DB, then it's worth doing. We've been talking to firms a lot over the summer, asking what they need, and we will try and facilitate that."
The second strand of the DA paper will look at "making sure people's pension pots become more certain over their working lives and how that might work in a world of solvency requirements".
A third section will look at CDC and its potential to lessen risk for savers, he added.
Ultimately, DA is meant to be "enabling" for employers, Webb stressed, and will not set out rigidly prescriptive frameworks.
He said: "They're not single models. They're not ‘you can only do it via a, b, c'. It's meant to be creating a permissive legal framework that where an employer is willing to do more than the bare minimum, we the regulators are on their side, not in their way."
After outlining Webb's ideas around ‘DB-lite' and ‘DC-plus' last year, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said in May it was exploring three DB-style models in more depth.
Webb subsequently confirmed to PP that the department was looking into collective DC models as part of the project.
Develop ‘soft skills’
Governance reforms expected in May
Strategic partnership between firms
Catching up with the Influencers