GERMANY - The lower than expected take-up of alternative pension provision could be reverted if workers automatically paid part of their wages into pension schemes, the ABA conference was told today.

If workers adopted the voluntary opt-out, then take-up rates could increase, as happened in the US, Johannes Leinhert o the Bertelsmann foundation told the annual meeting of the corporate pension association, Arbeitsgemeinshcaft fuer Betriebliche Alterversorgung.

Leinhert cited three employers in the US who had introduced a form similar to the voluntary opt-out.

After the introduction of such an option take-up rates had increased, in some cases "dramatically", Leinhert said. He explained that the lack of transparency and clear information had made workers indecisive about pension products.

The foundation has carried out an investigation which found that although a few believe the state pension is sufficient, there was a tendency among workers to defer making decisions on pension provisions.

It found that 75% of the interviewees who said in the second quarter of 2002 that they would invest more had not done so by the end of the year.

As things stand, workers face a difficult decision but the consequences of prolonged postponement could be "dramatic" the speaker said.

He likened choosing a pension product to filling out a tax return. "But in contrast with the tax return, there is no deadline for pensions and people are left to think about it until it is too late.”