GERMANY - More than 2m employees in Germany want to sign with an occupational pension scheme within the next 12 months, a recent survey has found.

In total, around 4.4m people are interested in joining an occupational pension scheme, the market research company YouGovPsychonomics found in its 2011 report, which includes a survey among 1,000 employees and 500 small and medium enterprises.

According to German law, employers have to offer an occupational pension scheme - either insurance-based or as a pension fund vehicle - to employees if they ask for it.

Currently, around 8.7m employees are covered by an occupational pension scheme, while 17.1m are not, with the calculations roughly corresponding with government data.

More than half of the surveyed employees without an occupational pension scheme think it is a safe investment, while more than one-third think the money is better invested in occupational vehicles than in fund-based life insurance.

However, although 85% of the surveyed companies are offering an occupational pension scheme, more than half conceded that no information regarding the scheme was given out to staff.

Those actively promoting the scheme expect more people to join this year.

In a survey at the end of last year, insurance group Ergo found that 62% of SMEs not offering a pension scheme were "definitely not" planning to do so by their own accord. 

Similarly, Auxilion found a few months prior that pension agents in SMEs are not doing enough to promote pensions, while Kienbaum consultancy noted that money was still the major concern for SMEs regarding pensions.

However, in a survey by Standard Life at the beginning of 2011, more than one-third of SMEs said they might consider introducing a pension scheme.

One year previously, Standard Life had reported waning interest in pensions among SMEs, and in 2009, the companies had said their staff was not interested in pension schemes.