LONDON (Reuters) - Initial results for a scheme to get more British workers to save for their retirement by automatically enrolling them in company pension schemes have been better than the government expected, it said on Thursday.
Over 90 percent of workers enrolled in a workplace pension plan by the 50 biggest British employers are staying rather than electing to opt out, the first figures released on Thursday by the UK's Department for Work and Pensions showed.
The government had expected 30 percent to opt out, based on its own research with workers before auto-enrolment was introduced.
"Seeing our largest employers report such low opt-out rates bodes well for this ambitious programme, which will see millions more putting money aside for the future," pensions minister Steve Webb said in a statement.
Companies with more than 120,000 employees were required to start auto-enrolment in the second half of last year. For small firms employing between 50-89 staff the deadline is July 2014.
The government wants to encourage more workers to start saving for retirement. Only one in three British workers in the private sector were paying into a workplace pension, the DWP said.
Over 1 million workers have been enrolled into a pension by companies such as food chain McDonalds, retailer John Lewis and supermarkets operator Asda, the DWP said in a statement, with 6 to 9 million more people expected to join a company pension plan for the first time by 2018.
(Reporting by Sarah Mortimer; Editing by Greg Mahlich)