More than three-quarters (79%) of hotel and restaurant workers have no access to a work pension, and thousands face poverty or working beyond retirement age, according to charity Age Concern.
Research by the charity shows that a third of hospitality workers earning £10,400-£15,600, and a fifth of those earning £15,600-£31,200, have no private pension provision.
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) spokesman Daniel Mazliah warned: "It is not an exaggeration to say that small businesses, including those in the hotels and catering industries, face a pensions crisis in the coming years.
"The self-employed plough much of their earnings back into their business and often can't afford to contribute to a pension fund. Indeed, entrepreneurs have the lowest level of private pension provision in the country."
The FSB stressed that compulsory contributions were not the answer, however. "Employees should not be forced to save, and we reject outright the call for compulsory employer contributions," he said.
Dave Turnbull, a regional organiser for the T&G union, said the union would obviously like to see a better state pension, but he described the industry as "very poor" in its pension provision.
"Employers need to do a lot more," Turnbull said. "Very few in the industry have pension schemes, even stakeholder schemes. They're doing the bare minimum to scrape by in terms of the law."