Dutch pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) said it will temporarily relax the supervisory burden on pension funds.

According to a spokesman, the watchdog is also assessing the options for deferred payments of pension contributions by hard hit sectors.

He said DNB will take the availability of both its own staff as well as pension fund employees and trustees into account for running any future supervisory investigations.

Moreover, it will assess individual requests by pension funds for deferring recovery plans, which have to be submitted this month.

Pension fund boards must be able to manage the crisis – this has the highest priority at the moment, according to DNB.

It said that pension funds should keep critical processes running and should  be monitoring their financial positions, without instantly responding to every market movement and interest rates changes.

Currently, the supervisor is taking stock of the potential bottlenecks, including reporting deadlines.

“We think together with the schemes, and look for solutions where possible,” the spokesman said, adding that DNB had postponed assessing trustees, and that it intended to continue the screening process through video links.

The supervisor hasn’t yet formulated an opinion about the consequences of pension funds’ collapsed coverage ratios, the spokesman continued.

DNB office building

DNB hasn’t yet formulated an opinion about the consequences of pension funds’ collapsed coverage ratios

He echoed the recent statement of DNB president Klaas Knot, who highlighted that funding at year-end will be crucial for rights cuts, and that markets could rebounce once the COVID-19 virus is under control.

Responding to questions from heavily hit sectors about the options for deferred premium payments, DNB said it is looking for solutions in co-operation with the ministry of social affairs and the Pensions Federation.

Reiswerk, the pension fund for the travel industry, said it is still assessing the possibility of deferred contribution payments.

Horeca, the sector scheme for hospitality and catering, said it had received dozens of similar requests, and expected this number to rise in the coming days as employers are now busy addressing more urgent issues.

The large pension fund for the retail sector (Detailhandel) also announced it is discussing relief measures with trade unions and employers, in particular for non-food shops where sales are plummeting.

Eiko de Vries, chair of the pension fund for the leasure industry (Recreatie), said the scheme had received three requests for premium deferment from venues focusing on groups and team building activities.