UK - Women are less likely to contribute more than the minimum of 4% of qualifying earnings to a UK pension once auto-enrolment is introduced in 2012, consultancy Hymans Robertson has revealed. This is even though 73% are worried they will not have saved enough for a decent retirement income.

The survey of 2,050 adults also revealed 40% of workers earning less than £15,000 (€16,539) a year plan to opt-out of the auto-enrolment process, while almost a third of all respondents agreeing they would do the same.

In comparison, only 15% of workers earning between £45,000 and £55,000 plan to opt out of the pension reforms. This then increases to 27% of those earning above £55,000. And the remaining group of earners, with earnings of between £15-25,000 and £25-35,000, are also likely to opt-out at 33% and 32% respectively. 

Despite the high number of low-earners planning to avoid the reforms, 70% of all employees believe auto-enrolment is a good idea. This is supported by findings suggesting two-thirds of people across all income ranges do not think they are saving sufficiently for their retirement.

This is particularly the case for 73% of women, although the research from Hymans Robertson revealed the figure increased to 89% for those earning under £15,000 and to 80% for employees earning between £15,001 and £25,000.

Additional findings on attitudes to contribution rates found that almost half of respondents would contribute more than the minimum 4% of qualifying earnings set as part of the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), and this was most prevalent in workers aged over 45.

Yet the results highlighted a significant gender gap in attitudes to contribution rates as just 42% of women are willing to pay more than the minimum, compared to 59% of men.

Chris Noon, partner at Hymans Robertson, said; "It is good news that the older age groups won't just settle for the minimum that NEST will deliver. But the gender gap is worrying: we know that women are more likely to work part-time, take career breaks and get paid less, al of which can potentially affect both their return from the State pension as well as the private provision they make."

Noon therefore stressed that careful education and a concerted effort from the government, employers and the pension industry is needed to make workers aware that auto-enrolment "should only be seen as part of their retirement planning".

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email