- 18 Feb 2014
On 12 February 2014 the National Labour Council has given its unanimous advice on the harmonization of blue-collar and white-collar employees in the field of occupational pensions. Any distinction regarding future periods of employment should be eliminated by 1 January 2025 at the latest.
The advice of the National Labour Council (NLC) is based on the following principles:
1. For periods of employment after the "cut-off date" (1 January 2025) one can no longer make a distinction between blue-collar and white-collar employees in existing occupational pension schemes. The date of 1 January 2025 applies to both industry-wide and company-level pension schemes. A different treatment for periods of employment prior to the "cut-off date" is not considered discriminatory in existing occupational pension schemes.
2. As from the entry into force of the new Act (the new Act will modify the Act on Occupational Pensions) a so-called "standstill period" commences. Said "standstill period" implies a.o. that:
- A new occupational pension scheme can no longer make a distinction between blue-collar and white-collar employees;
- In an existing occupational pension scheme, the differences between blue-collar and white-collar employees cannot increase. This "standstill period" applies to both industry-wide and company-level pension schemes. If the company or the industry wants to modify an existing pension scheme, it will have to keep this basic principle in view.
3. The NLC stated that it is first up to the industries to start the harmonization process. The companies can await the outcome of the negotiations at industry level before starting the harmonization process at a company level. The "cut-off date" is, however, set at the same date for both the industries and the companies. Every two years, the NLC will evaluate the state of the harmonisation process at industry level in order to encourage the industries to start the harmonisation process, if necessary, and to keep the companies informed of the state of affairs.
4. Modifications of occupational pension schemes fall within the margin for remuneration costs, except when the pension scheme qualifies as so-called "social" pension scheme.
> Action point
We recommend making an overview of the existing occupational schemes for blue-collar and white-collar employees in your company. Closely monitor the developments in your sector(s) of industry. Be careful when you intend to modify the existing pension scheme of the blue-collar or of the white-collar employees outside of a harmonization process.