The European Commission presented, on 22 January, two studies confirming that "supplementary pension schemes continue to pose obstacles to mobility for workers across Europe".

The first - by Hewitt Associates1 - analyses the rules for supplementary pension schemes in major organisations in nine member states. It describes common practices for the acquisition, preservation and transfer of supplementary pension rights. The study reveals that many systems do not impose any vesting period - the amount of time required for workers to accumulate pension rights - although one third of the defined benefits schemes still require workers to contribute for over two years before acquiring such rights. The study also shows that one fourth of schemes of this type do not allow any revaluation of dormant pension rights when changing jobs. In effect, the rights are frozen until the time the worker retires.

The second study - by researchers at the Belgian Higher Institute for Labour Studies (Hoger instituut voor de arbeid, Leuven)2 - analyses Eurobarometer data on how long workers stay in their jobs, when they expect to change jobs and the overall length of careers in the different member states. The results show that, at present, nearly 40% of workers change jobs every five years on average and they can therefore be disadvantaged by long acquisition periods applied by certain supplementary pension schemes. The figures on workers' mobility...

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