NETHERLANDS - Social affairs' minister Piet Hein Donner wants to reduce by 50% the number of workers who are not saving for retirement through a pension fund or an insurer.

Donner's announcement came as research by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) suggested that 10% of employees aren't covered by a pension scheme or third pillar arrangements.

Compared to a study in 1996, the researchers noted the difference between men and women has largely disappeared, probably because of the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation.

They found that 16% of the workers in their early twenties are not covered by pension arrangements, and that 19% of high earners are not participating in a pension plan either.

According to the study, 19% of workers in the commercial services sector are in a similar situation, probably because of the relatively low participation rate of workers employed through agencies.

In contrast, employees in the non-commercial sector, such as the civil service and healthcare, have the largest participation rate of 99%, CBS found.

The researchers suggested that the reduction of waiting times to two months before workers can join a pension fund has increased the number of employees saving for retirement

They expected a similar effect from a decrease of the franchise - the part of the income that is excluded from the build-up of a pension - allowing low earners to participate in a pension plan.

The study further confirmed that employees at smaller companies are less likely to be saving for pension arrangements.

Minister Donner indicated that he will involve the social partners in his efforts to increase pension saving, but was not specific about his preferred option.

At the moment Dutch companies do not have to offer their workers a pension plan, as this needs to be negotiated by the social partners of employers and employees.