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IPE special report May 2018

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Dutch recreation scheme seeks growth through voluntary additions

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The €660m mandatory pension fund for the recreation sector (Recreatie) said it would seek growth through taking in recreation companies that aren’t not subject to mandatory participation.

Eiko de Vries, the scheme’s chairman, said that his pension fund could be of interest to the approximately 1,300 businesses that were currently exempt from a mandatory affiliation.

De Vries: “The sector is still expanding. We see amusement and safari parks invest in residential recreation in particular to keep visitors for longer, while, on the other hand, combinations of swimming pools, sport centres and amusement arcades are being set up.

“As a consequence, part of the staff is sometimes subject to our mandatory pension plan. To an employer, it would be much more practical if all workers were served by the same pensions provider.”

As examples, he cited large amusement parks and wellness centres. “Sometimes, if a park also rents out holiday homes, part of their staff are already participants in the pension fund.”

In these cases, the scheme could also start offering defined contribution (DC) or collective DC arrangements, in addition to its current defined benefit plan, De Vries explained.

At the moment, Pensioenfonds Recreatie has 1,280 affilated employers. As its 18,500-strong membership is relatively young, it receives €40m of contributions annually.

The chairman explained that the scheme’s expansion plan was triggered by the fact that it had to negotiate with two different employer organisations, which had produced two different collective labour agreements (CAOs).

“This had made us aware that the social partners of workers and employers also had the option of seeking another pensions provider,” De Vries said.

Co-operation or a merger with another industry-wide scheme was not an option acceptable for the social partners: they insisted on continuing their own pension fund, seeing sufficient growth potential to keep it viable.

The chairman of Recreatie pointed out that the scheme’s growth plan required an active approach of employers, “with resolute and less viscous decision-making”.

He stressed that expansion would also benefit current participants, as it could decrease costs, improve the service level and would be good for continuity as well.

In his opinion, the plan was not at odds with the policy of the outgoing government aimed at preventing mandatory sector schemes further expanding their domain of influence.

“There is sufficient coherence between our mandatory industry-wide pension fund and the companies that join voluntarily,” he argued.

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