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Stakeholders agree to limit PostNL obligation to fund pension scheme

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The €6.3bn pension fund PostNL has hammered out an agreement with its employer and unions on a new pension plan, with limited sponsor obligation for plugging funding gaps and an increase of the retirement age to 67.

In return, the pensions accrual will be increased, while the ‘franchise’ – the part of the salary exempt from pensions accrual – will be reduced.

Because pension arrangements for the employees of PostNL and parcel delivery company TNT Express – currently implemented by the pension fund PostNL – will “diverge further”, a new pension scheme for TNT Express workers will be set up.

As part of the new agreement, the accrual rate will be increased from approximately 1.92% to 2%, while the franchise will be lowered from €15,417 to €13,227.

However, the stakeholders pointed out that the new accrual rate could be adjusted upward or downward, depending on the set cap on contributions.

The pension fund, employer and unions also agreed to limit the sponsor’s obligation to fill in funding gaps to a yearly maximum of 1.25% of the scheme’s liabilities.

The sponsor will make an additional €300m available, but only for the next four years.

To prevent a coverage shortfall at the end of this year, PostNL will make another €150m available.

Last August, the scheme’s funding was 102.8%, whereas the required minimum at year-end was almost 105%.

The new arrangements are still subject to approval by the unions’ rank and file members.

Last year, an arbitration board concluded that PostNL had to address the shortfall at its pension fund, irrespective of the scheme’s ability to recover on its own steam.

At the time, the pension fund demanded €131.5m from the employer.

However, the company preferred to suspend the payments, citing the increasingly large financial risk posed by the pension arrangements.

The Stichting Pensioenfonds PostNL has approximately 99,000 participants in total.

Its indexation in arrears was approximately 4% at the end of 2012.

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