GERMANY - Only half of German employees show some or considerable interest in occupational pensions, a Standard Life survey of 270 companies has found. The number is down from 64% last year.

The poll among 270 HR-representatives of small and medium-sized companies with up to 500 employees also revealed that 84% of the companies do not expect interest levels to change over the next five years - in the first survey of this kind last year it was only 66%.

However, only 14% were not optimistic about recruiting any new members for their occupational pension scheme, half that of last year.

In a separate study of 150 companies of all sizes, KPMG pointed out that there was not much interest in making contributions above the 4% level that attracts a tax break or contribution top-up.

Standard Life said its findings proved occupational pension schemes were becoming more widespread, with 37% of companies having set up a plan covering more than 50% of employees compared to 34% the year before - most of them large companies with more than 500 employees.

Another prevailing difference between larger and smaller companies is the size of employer contributions to schemes, KPMG pointed out.

On average, employer contributions range from 2-6% depending on industry and company size.Smaller companies pay higher contributions for employees with a medium income than larger companies, while the picture is reversed for higher earners.

Although interest among companies to set up a pension scheme remains at a similar level to last year at 77%, the motivations for doing so have shifted in favour of lowering non-wage labour costs through deferred compensation (69% compared to 40%) and additional state subsidies (66% compared to 46%). (See earlier IPE article: German corporates continue shift to pension plans).