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Dutch railways scheme to introduce pension-accrual options

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SPF, the €14.5bn pension fund for the Dutch railways sector, is to introduce three variants for accrual in a bid to keep pensions provision affordable for each of its 69 participating companies.

It said companies would be given the choice between different accruals against different contributions within its collective defined contribution arrangements.

The three alternatives are SPF’s response to the increasing price of pensions arising from low interest rates, as well as the accounting rules of the new financial assessment framework (nFTK) and the ultimate forward rate (UFR) as part of the discounting mechanism for liabilities.

The most generous option offers an annual pensions accrual of 1.875% against a contribution of 24% and a franchise – the amount exempt from both pensions accrual and premium payment – of €12,642.

Both other alternatives provide for an accrual rate of 1.563% against a 20% premium but under franchises of €12,642 and €13,545, respectively. 

Currently, SPF charges all participating employers a uniform contribution of 20% for an annual accrual of 1.875% and against a franchise of €13,449.

The new rules are set for the next five years, but the social partners have decided that the accrual rate could be adjusted earlier – due to changing interest rates, for example.

SPF said it would also adhere to new rules for indexation allowing for part or full inflation compensation if funding is at least 110% or 124.5%, respectively. 

As of the end of October, SPF’s coverage ratio was 109.9%.

As a consequence, the scheme said, participants cannot expect full indexation for the foreseeable future.

The social partners in the railways industry have agreed that any future rights cuts will be no more than 1.5% per annum. 

SPF has 72,275 participants in total, with more than 29,000 active workers and 25,290 pensioners.

Recently, the €5bn pension fund PNO Media announced that it would introduce a contribution based on the age of a company’s staff, rather than charge an average premium, with the view to becoming more attractive as a pensions provider.

For the same reason, it will also add defined contribution arrangements to its existing defined benefits plans.

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