IRELAND - The Bank of Ireland (BoI) has agreed a deal with union officials to introduce a hybrid DB/DC pension scheme, following the closure of its final salary scheme last year.

Frank Flynn, head of group pensions at Bank of Ireland, confirmed to IPE trade unions will now recommend members accept proposals - recommended by the Labour Relations Commission in Ireland and endorsed by the Labour Court - for the introduction of a hybrid pension scheme for new members, known as LifeBalance.

BoI has been involved in negotiations with the Irish Bank Officials Association (IOBA) and Amicus for 18 months about the introduction of the DB/DC plan, after the firm announced it would close its final salary scheme to new members from October 2006.

Terms of the deal, which will now be put to a member ballot over the coming weeks by IBOA and Amicus, mean LifeBalance will be introduced as a hybrid pension arrangement comprising a cash balance type "Retirement Capital Account"(RCA), membership of which is mandatory, alongside a optional Personal Investment account, an arrangement which is defined contribution in design but comes with matched contributions of up to 3%.

New employees in both Ireland and the UK will be automatically enrolled into the RCA, but UK employees can exercise their statutory right to opt out.

An additional incentive is also being offered to encourage employees to opt for the PIA, which gives them extra employer contributions in the first three years.

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