UK - The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has warned a third of organisations operating UK occupational schemes do not know what to do with their existing arrangements in response to the UK pension reforms, despite the implementation date being less than four years away.

Findings from the NAPF's 2008 HR Survey, HR Managers and Pensions, revealed 48% of organisations expect to continue running existing pension arrangements for both current and new employees once personal accounts and auto-enrolment are introduced in 2012.

But while a further 18% would either switch everyone to personal accounts or keep existing employees in the old scheme and enrol new members into the new system of personal accounts, 33% said they do not know what they will do.

Despite this indecision, the survey of 300 HR managers claimed 91% said the main reason for providing a pension as helping to maintain their position as a responsible employer, while 89% were said to have a paternalistic approach because they believed it was their duty to help employees prepare for retirement.

However, while 78% of HR managers claimed pensions are a "tax-effective way to reward people", over three-quarters claimed they have always offered a pension and it would be difficult to change, while 68% think pensions are a necessary tool in the recruitment and retention of staff.

The NAPF survey did highlight, however, while pensions are important to the company, 60% of respondents felt employees do not understand pensions or retirement planning, resulting in 85% believing face-to-face information from a financial adviser was the most effective communication method.

That said, despite the lack of communication and understanding 35% of respondents admitted to concerns about being held liable for unsuitable pension choices by employees if they provide too much detailed information on the scheme, though 75% found group workplace meetings effective in communicating with members.

Nigel Peaple, director of policy at the NAPF, said the research findings showed the majority of employers view their workplace pension as something more than just a normal part of the employment package.

He said: "There clearly remains a strong sense of duty and responsibility towards their workers which employers should gain more credit for. There are of course some issues to resolve around information and understanding but these are matters which are being improved upon."

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