The Belgian Association of Pension Funds (BAPF) has issued a checklist of pensions issues that it believes need to be highlighted and technically clarified ahead of the forthcoming hearing in the country’s parliament on the so-called Vandenbroucke law for complementary ‘social’ pension plans.
The six points raised by the BAPF on the new law (loi sur les pensions complementaires – PLPC) include the treatment of discrimination between sector plans and company pension plans, mobility of workers and investment return guarantees.
Further matters for discussion, the BAPF says, include over-regulation and the burdening effect of administrative charges, as well as modes of payment for pension rights at the end of career. The new Belgian pension law allows for ‘social’ pension arrangements available to all employees to be introduced within both industry sectors and individual companies.
On the discrimination topic, the BAPF proposes the adoption of mutual collective laws for company pension plans and sector-wide plans.
This, it says, would avoid a situation whereby sector pension plans can introduce different pension arrangements for different grades of employees under collective agreement, but company plans, which are obliged to include all their employees in one arrangement, could not.
A further point the BAPF raises concerns temporary workers, who, normally excluded from company pension schemes, would have to be included in any ‘social’ company pension plan.
The association also flags up the potential burden of excessive reporting to members required under the new law. Under the new regulation pension funds will have to provide an annual report to members containing information on an individual’s pension rights. On demand they will also have to furnish employees with historical pension rights details and must produce an annual report on the investment activities of the fund.
The BAPF comments: “The BAPF subscribes wholeheartedly to the general transparency objective and its benefit to workers.” However, it adds: “The demands being made in terms of communication are extreme and not always practically possible.”