Germany’s Social and Finance Ministries are collecting data on the use of occupational pensions in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as the impact of tax incentives in the second-pillar system.

A team from the college at Paderborn under Frank Wallau is to present the results from research into SMEs by mid-November.

Commissioned by the Social Ministry (BMAS), the academics are to look into obstacles encountered in this “important segment” for the German industry when it comes to setting up a pension fun.

At the same time, the Finance Ministry has begun conducting research into how tax incentives are influencing the second pillar, particularly pension fund contributions.

Christian Luft, head of the BMAS pension department, told delegates at the annual conference of the German pension fund association (aba) that the surveys would form the basis of measures to increase the use of occupational pension schemes.

He said he was against “heavy” measures such as a mandatory regime or opting-out, both for employees as well as for employers.

The latter opting-out model had been mooted during the recent election campaign.

He also argued that a mandatory system should be only “a measure of last resort”, as it would interfere with the voluntary character of the system in which employers are using occupational pensions partly to motivate their employees.

He also said opting out would do nothing to bring more occupational pension schemes into the SME landscape, as those companies might again opt out of the system due to greater administrative costs.

Luft said he would rather opt for “smaller steps than big-bang solutions, as those are always stirring up dust”.

He said the ministries were looking to improve information on occupational pensions among employees.

He also confirmed they were “peeking across the borders” into countries like Sweden for new ideas.

“But, for better information, we will also need more data and regular information from all schemes,” he said.