Rogue bosses who risk workers' pensions face being jailed for up to two years under plans to criminalise unscrupulous business activities.
Theresa May said a new package of measures would help protect staff by cracking down on the "irresponsible few" at the top of companies.
It comes after the collapse of BHS in 2016 with a £571 million deficit in its pot for 19,000 pension holders.
The Prime Minister said: "It is absolutely vital that people who work hard and contribute to society throughout their career can have the confidence that their pension will pay out in retirement.
"I am committed to making sure our economy works for everyone - backing businesses to create good jobs but stepping in to make sure they play by the rules.
"That's why my Government is making sure the Pensions Regulator has the powers it needs to crack down on the minority of businesses who shirk their responsibilities.
"The action we are taking will ensure that the majority of responsible employees, employers and pension schemes will no longer have to bail out the irresponsible few."
Dodging or abusing pension responsibilities will be made a crime under the plans and the regulator will be given powers to intervene earlier when problems are suspected.
The Insolvency Service will also be given extra powers to help protect employees and small suppliers from reckless company directors.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey said: "Up and down the country the vast majority of employers are doing the right thing and acting in the best interests of their staff.
"But we have seen what can go wrong, therefore we will clamp down on and - where appropriate - punish directors who wilfully or recklessly put pension schemes at risk.
"It is right that those responsible face tougher sanctions and we need to make sure that the Pensions Regulator has the powers in place to act swiftly when action is needed."