The big four supermarkets were the first companies to comply with the new pension rules that came into force this week - and all went further than the law required.

As the biggest private sector employers in the country, the government required the retailers to take a lead in the pensions shake-up. Under the rules, the minimum they had to do was auto-enrol full-time staff in defined contribution schemes into which they would pay in 1% of gross pay above £5,564.

But all have opted for more generous schemes. Tesco kept its defined benefit scheme, which guarantees an income on retirement and offers more certainty than defined contribution schemes.

Morrisons has created a ‘cash balance’ scheme that guarantees a pension pot on retirement, removing the risk employees take on under defined contribution schemes.

Although Sainsbury’s and Asda’s schemes involve more risk for employees, both offer to match contributions up to 6% of all pay from the first £1 earned.

“They should be proud they are better than they need to be” said Mark Pemberthy, director of auto-enrolment at JLT.