The group of 10 meeting of the social partners (employer and employee representatives) signed an “outline accord” last week dealing notably with lowering the guaranteed rate of supplementary pensions (the second pension pillar).
This measure should come into effect on 1 January 2016.
The current situation
At present, employers have to guarantee a return of 3.75% on personal contributions and 3.25% on employer contributions paid into a pension scheme. However, the economic and financial crisis has meant it is now difficult for employers to find insurance companies that will give assurance of these rates. Consequently, it falls to employers to make up the difference between the actual return and the return that needs to be guaranteed (3.75% or 3.25%). This obligation, which represents a major additional cost for employers, is such that it is dissuading employers from offering their workforces group insurance schemes.
The agreement between the social partners
In order to ensure continuation of the second pension pillar, the group of 10 has agreed to lower the guaranteed return rate. Specifically, the rate should be variable from year to year (depending on the average return on Belgian straight-line 10-year bonds), with a lower limit of 1.75% and an upper one of 3.75%. The new procedures would only apply to contributions paid as of 1 January 2016. They would not therefore affect contributions paid in the past.
Lowering the guaranteed return on supplementary pensions is a decision by the social partners in the framework of an overall accord on a raft of other matters (such as defining the adapted availability of aged workers and recipients of unemployment benefit with company allowance, labour-market availability of part-time workers in receipt of a wage-guarantee allowance on top of their part-time salary, return to work of persons work-disabled for more than two months, etc.). Implementation of the reduction in the guaranteed return on supplementary pensions is therefore closely linked to the fate that the government has reserved to these other sensitive matters.
Sources: La Libre Belgique of 16 October 2015, https://vbo-feb.be.
Auteur: Catherine Legardien