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Aon, pensions council at loggerheads over proposed move to Belgium

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Risk adviser Aon has refused to plug any future funding gaps at its Dutch pension fund if the scheme’s works council (OR) continues to fight a proposed relocation to Belgium, Dutch financial news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) has reported.

The company has brought the case before the magistrates court.

The FD quoted Dorine Wekking, Aon’s head of human resources, as saying: “It is about the pension fund without additional employer contributions versus a Belgian-based scheme with the option of such payments.” 

Aon called on the court to provide clarity about the OR’s right of approval. 

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The key question during the case was whether the company could ignore its OR.

Aon argued that it should be able to do so, as a cross-border move concerns pensions provision, whereas the OR has a legal say only on the pensions contract, according to the FD.

The OR’s lawyer, however, argued that the employer’s additional payments were an integral part of the overall pension plan. 

The works council also contends that participants’ rights and overall governance are weaker in Belgium than in the Netherlands.

According to the FD, the transfer to Belgium has been suspended to the time being, as the conditions set by the OR have not been met.

The FD also reported that the magistrate said he would not accept Aon’s reasoning on the OR’s remit “just like that”. 

He is quoted as saying: “As far as the provision is about the pensions arrangements, the workers could have an interest.”

The court is expected to produce a verdict on the case within the next four weeks.

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