Pension law is a special field of employment law; for instead of two, three parties are involved: the employer, the employee and also the pension provider (pension fund or pension insurer). Thus the employer has to deal with two other parties, while he has to ensure that all is well arranged.
In addition, pensions are subject to taxation, and tax legislation is becoming more and more complex and is often changed.
The interests in the pension sector are huge, both financially and socially. This is a reason for us to ensure that we guide our clients in a safe manner through the pension issues.
Our pension specialists have a profound knowledge of all facets of pension law and employment law. We follow the current developments closely and share our knowledge and information via the Pensioenrecht Balie (Pension Law Desk). This is a national network set up by the Netherlands Pension Office with which all law firms are affiliated and where pension law is discussed at a high level. The Pensioenrecht Balie guarantees the quality of pension lawyers on the basis of know-how and information sharing, as you can expect from us.
Examples of Pension Issues
Take-over or merger
A take-over or merger generally includes large pension interests. The acquiring company can be held to a pension scheme that existed at the company taken over. Or the acquiring company can be forced to participate in a Sectoral Pension Fund (BPF) as a result of the take-over or merger. This can have grave consequences for the pension premium annually payable.
Another pitfall in the event of a take-over is any pension premium that has not been paid by the company taken over.
Request for mandatory participation in a collective pension fund
Mandatory participation in a Sectoral Pension Fund applies to approximately 80% of the companies in the Netherlands. Sometimes companies are not aware of this obligation. This can lead to claims of pension premiums for the past 5 to 20 years. This is even the case when a company has taken out a pension insurance with an insurer.
Changes in pension regulations
Tax legislation and thus the regulations in the field of pensions were changed a number of times these past few years. In general, this entails the need to change the pension scheme. There is a serious duty of due care for the employer for informing his employees correctly. For they have in principle to agree to the change, because pensions are a term of employment.
Works Councils (OR) and employee representative bodies (PVT) were given more and more rights these past few years with regard to the establishing and changing of pension schemes. The preparation of requests for endorsement and opinions requires the necessary expertise.
When a company is not held to participate in a Sectoral Pension Fund, there is no pension obligation, in principle. Nevertheless, employers will usually wish to set up a pension scheme. This is placed with a pension insurer and has its own issues in the fields of equal treatment of employees, timely registration of employees, and mandatory participation by employees.
In particular with insured schemes, the necessity exists to change the scheme if it turns out that a scheme becomes unaffordable, for example, because it is still a final salary scheme or career average scheme and not an available contributory scheme.