Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse how firm size impacts pension workforce coverage with a particular focus on automatic enrolment (AE) to pension plans in small organisations. Design/methodology/approach The paper examines the alignment of government AE interests with those of small employers, their employees and pension providers to better understand how firm size impacts pension workforce coverage. Findings The alignment of interests between stakeholders (government, pension providers, employers and employees) differs between large and small organisations, and empirical findings from large organisations cannot be assumed to apply in small organisations. Research limitations/implications The paper calls attention to the need for future empirical research and identifies a number of research questions for further analysis to examine how AE impacts pension participation in small organisations and advance the field. Originality/value The policy of automatically enroling employees into occupational pension plans, recently legislated for all eligible workers in the UK and under consideration in the USA and Ireland, was developed from research conducted in a small number of large organisations. Pension coverage is particularly inadequate for the large number of employees working in small organisations (1-49 employees). However, little research attention has been focussed on pensions in small organisations with pension policy makers assuming that legislated AE will work as effectively in small organisations as it did in large organisations. This paper addresses this gap in the field.