As obligations change, employers have a lot to consider – now’s the time to pick a pension scheme, says Tim Jones

Today people in the UK can expect to live longer than ever before. Increasing life expectancy, declining workplace pension saving and falling birth rates mean millions will face inadequate pensions in retirement.

Government estimates suggest around seven million people are not saving enough to give them the retirement income they want or expect, perhaps because they don't meet their employer's qualification criteria or because their employer does not offer a pension scheme.

To help address this issue, big changes are coming. Starting in 2012, almost every employer in the UK will have to provide a pension scheme for most of their workers and make a minimum contribution.

So what should employers do? Retail businesses need to be prepared for the changes.

First, know when the duties impact your business. You can find out on The Pensions Regulator's website:

Next, you'll need to choose an appropriate pension arrangement that suits your needs and those of your workers. Choosing a scheme that's easy to administer in a sector with higher workforce turnover than others is likely to be a priority.

Charges are also likely to be near the top of the list of retailers' criteria.NEST has tried to ensure employers' costs are low by designing a free scheme that's easy to administer. We're run on a not-for-profit basis, ensuring low charges for members. Any employer can use NEST, but you can also choose another scheme.

The scheme we've developed belongs to its members and can travel with them. You don't need to set up a new pot for new joiners who have already started saving with NEST, or administer the pots of members who leave you.

Finally, when you've found a scheme you like, there's the question of whether you want one scheme for every worker, something to work alongside another scheme, or an arrangement you could use for just a particular group of workers.

There's a lot to consider, so we think that even if your business is not impacted for some years it's still advisable to consider how you will respond to these big changes sooner rather than later.