NETHERLANDS - Employers still fully support the Dutch Pensions Agreement between the social partners and the government, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has concluded.

Following a survey of 80 employers, the consultancy said: "Companies are positive about the agreed cap on the pension contributions, as well as about a retirement age linked to life expectancy and pension benefits linked to the financial markets.

"These changes warrant that companies' contributions to their pension plans become affordable again, and that estimating costs will become easier."

However, PwC said this did not mean employers would implement the pensions deal fully in their companies.

The researchers found that, although 88% of the employers support a flexible retirement age, only two in five want their employees to continue working beyond the current official retirement age of 65.

Almost 40% of surveyed companies said they wanted the pension claims of their employees to become less secure.

According to PwC, some companies are prepared to pay an additional contribution into their pension schemes if necessary to avoid a benefits discount.

A large majority of respondents said they foresaw obstacles for changes in their pension plans and feared that workers would want to be compensated for adjustments.

Furthermore, 58% of employers predicted any agreement on a stable pension premium would prove impossible.

No fewer than 91% of the companies made clear that the information provided by both the government and the social partners on the subject was vague.

Approximately 30% said they could not explain the new pensions arrangements to their workers, PwC said.

The consultancy found that 82% of the employers reckon they can implement the necessary changes by 1 January 2013.

However, they might be overly optimistic, "as extensive negotiations between companies' employees councils, pension funds and companies in the same line of business need to be conducted", PwC said.