GERMANY - The majority of German companies would welcome an opting-out system for transferring parts of salary to a pension fund, but they do not want to pay into a scheme for their employees, according to a survey by Longial.

Nearly half of companies taking part in a survey at the 2012 Handelsblatt event on occupational pensions said they would welcome an opting-out model for the so-called Entgeltumwandlung - which means that parts of the salary are transferred to a funded retirement scheme - in order to increase the coverage of funded occupational pensions.

Further, more than half of respondents said they saw occupational pensions schemes as the most important form of retirement provision apart from the state pension.

Only 20% of the more than 150 participating companies, however, said they would want to take on more responsibility for their employees' retirement provision, and only 10% said they would make a financial contribution.

Paulgerd Kolvenbach, managing director at pensions consultancy Longial, said German companies should do more on pensions, as they could position themselves as "more attractive employers" when battling for talent.

He also said he was convinced that employer contributions to a pensions scheme "increased motivation". 

Most respondents to the survey also expressed support for a risk-based levy for the PSV scheme, or the Pensionssicherungsverein - which takes on the pensions liabilities of insolvent companies.

Half of respondents said such a move was "overdue", but one-third also noted that "solidarity" should not completely be abolished within the PSV scheme.

Asked about the main challenges occupational pensions are facing in the coming years, respondents cited low returns, the need to decrease complexity and dangers arising from European regulations such as the IORP Directive - each of these was mentioned by 20% of those surveyed.

One-third said the EU should not interfere with established national regulations in occupational pensions.