The Norwegian government has put forward a proposal in its new 2021 budget that promises to relieve companies of some of their official reporting burden, while at the same time increasing state scrutiny to unearth employers not providing staff with mandatory workplace pensions.
Jan Tore Sanner, the Norwegian finance minister, said: “The government is concerned that there should be correct pay and working conditions for employees and less reporting for the business community.”
Under the proposal, information about an employee’s income and working conditions that is disclosed to the tax authority and the NAV social security agency via the “a-scheme” report, will in future be shared directly with pension companies.
This will relieve employers of the obligation to report the same information separately to the pension institutions, the finance ministry said.
“Through the a-scheme, the tax administration can get an overview of employers who do not report that they have a pension scheme,” the ministry said, in the announcement made last week alongside the many other budget proposals.
At issue is the Norwegian mandatory occupational pension (obligatorisk tjenestepensjon, OTP), which is currently not being accessed by between 50,000 and 90,000 employees in Norway, according to the ministry, citing data from Statistics Norway.
In addition, the ministry said the state would make arrangements to carry out automatic checks, ensuring that a larger number of employers were held to account.
Sanner said the government had listened to both the employers’ and employees’ organisations.
“The proposal will both provide less reporting for employers and give the authorities better control over employers who have a missing OTP agreement for their employees,” he said.
The ministry also said that increased compliance with the OTP regulations would help level the competitive playing field, because employers who failed to save for pensions currently had lower total salary and pension costs than those who complied with pension legislation.
Sanner said the industry association Finance Norway had calculated that the simplification gain from the reform to be NOK780m (€71.2m) a year for employers, as a result of them no longer having to report the same information to the pension institutions.
“Pension companies will receive salary and employee information in a standardised format and it will also involve the use of significantly fewer resources to keep employers up to date with reporting,” he said, adding that the savings for the pension firms amounted to an estimated NOK40m annually.
On top of this, the ministry said the government was also proposing transferring the supervisory role for the OTP from the Norwegian FSA to the tax authority.
It said the latter agency already had extensive control activities for employers, and from the beginning of next month its duties in this area were expanding anyway because of the transfer of responsibility for tax collection to it from the municipalities.