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Every worker will have a right to a company pension

All employees whose employer offers a company pension will soon be entitled to it, according to De Tijd on Tuesday. Existing restrictions for young people and employees with a short-term contract, who do not now accrue a supplementary pension, will be removed. 

On Thursday, the House will give a green light to a bill from Pension Minister Daniel Bacquelaine (MR), who is implementing a European directive.

More than 75 percent of employees in the private sector build up a supplementary pension in addition to their statutory pension. The company and the employee can set aside a percentage of the monthly wages in a pension fund.

In order to build up a supplementary pension, an employee must usually be at least 25 years old and have been employed by his company for at least one year. Those who were employed for less than a year, but for whom money was set aside, currently lose that amount.

The restrictions will disappear on 1 January 2019. “I look forward to extending the rights of workers to a company pension,” says Bacquelaine.

The MPs of the majority also point to the importance of the reform for employees who want to change jobs. “They no longer have to fear for an effect on their supplementary pension, which eliminates an obstacle to labour mobility,” says MP Sonja Becq (CD&V).

The trade unions are satisfied with the expansion. The business world, however, is a lot less enamoured of this new regulation. “Why does the Minister of Pensions go further than what Europe demands of him?”, The Association of Belgian Enterprises (FEB) asks. “Employees start to accrue pension rights on day one, while Europe allows a waiting period of three years.” 

The largest employers organisation in the country warns of higher costs, as well as an increase in administrative red tape. “A company must keep a file for all employees – even if they have only worked for a short time – which means a huge administrative burden.”

Bacquelaine has built in some limitations to meet the concerns of the companies and the pension funds and insurers. Shorter periods of service are counted, but employers must only keep their (ex) staff informed when their input exceeds 150 euros in deposits.

Accrued amounts of less than 150 euros must remain with the pension fund into which they were paid and can not be transferred if the employee changes jobs. This should guarantee the pension fund some financial stability.

Arthur Rubinstein
The Brussels Times