Irish Association of Pension Funds Chief Executive Jerry Moriarty has appealed for reform of the rules in relation to winding-up defined benefit pension schemes to protect contributing members.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Moriarty said it was necessary to allow the wind-up in an orderly manner that would allow a more equal distribution of assets.

A defined benefit scheme differs from a defined contribution scheme because it guarantees a level of income on retirement.

However, defined benefit schemes have become increasingly expensive for employers to sustain leading to more of them being either wound-up or made off-limits to new employees.

Around 400 defined benefit pension schemes have closed in the last five years and only 300 of the remaining 900 schemes in Ireland are meeting minimum funding standards under regulation.

Mr Moriarty said existing pensioners had a high level of protection that did not extend to employees contributing to the same schemes.

Currently in a wind-up situation, existing pensioners are fully protected irrespective of the size of their pension income.

Employees still contributing have no such protection even if they are close to retirement.

Mr Moriarty said existing pensioners should have a core level of protection with a more equal distribution of remaining scheme assets to those yet to retire.

He said the rules on wind-ups needed to change to allow an alternative distribution of assets.

He said a move to change the rules for winding up schemes had been postponed twice by the Government and this was creating confusion for pension scheme trustees.

Mr Moriarty said the delay was making the current situation worse because those involved in wind-ups were left wondering if they delayed the move would it facilitate a more even distribution of scheme assets.