NETHERLANDS – The new participants and pensioners council (DPR) at Dutch pension funds could be granted the right of advice as well as a limited right of appeal, according to Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for the Social Affairs Ministry.

During the final debate on her proposals for new governance legislation, she conceded that the accountability body ought to be given a right of appeal, but only for decisions linked to the existence of a pension fund, such as liquidation, a change of legal entity, a merger or division.

However, Klijnsma said she would stick with a 25% maximum for pensioners on pension fund boards, with a 50/50 representation of employer and workers.

She also insisted a board could only hire "expensive" external experts if at least one-quarter of its members agreed.

In her opinion, workers could also be represented in the DPR by non-union representatives.

But she warned that elections would significantly raise pension funds' costs.

She promised to come up with criteria for such elections, and suggested a threshold of 1%, or 1,000 participants, that would trigger a poll.

The state secretary agreed employers would also be allowed to take up a seat in a DPR, "as this would have added value for the employer's involvement in the pension fund".

She further promised that her ministry and the Pensions Federation would make a plan to improve diversity at pension fund boards, through the representation of younger participants and women, for example.

The government will evaluate the new legislation after three years rather than five, as initially proposed, she said.

The evaluation will include an assessment of the visitation committee for internal supervision compared with a permanent supervisory board, according to Klijnsma, who said she preferred the latter option.

However, the new governance legislation could yet face changes, as Parliament is to vote on at least 11 amendments that have been tabled during the debate.