Single status and supplementary pensions: where do you stand?
And more importantly, what's your next move?
Note that harmonisation consists of three periods, each of which has specific rules:
Before 1 January 2015
A difference in the treatment of complementary pensions based on a distinction between blue-collar and white-collar workers was not considered discriminatory.
From 1 January 2015 to 1 January 2025
Employers cannot stand idly by during this transition phase. They have to initiate harmonisation.
What is required of them?
Employers freely choose the approach they will implement.
To demonstrate that they have taken action, they can declare that they received information provided by their insurer, their broker or their company’s social partners. The purpose is to create a template with the different options available.
What is prohibited?
Implementing new plans based on a difference between blue-collar and white-collar employees
Strengthening the differences between the treatment of blue-collar and white-collar workers in current plans
Adding new distinctions. The sole exception is the introduction of changes intended to reduce or eliminate an existing difference.
What if there is no discrimination?
Employers are allowed to use other objective criteria (Art. 14 LPC) for categories which do not involve either blue-collar or white-collar workers.
Examples: management, executive management, etc.
Note: any continuation or indirect addition of differences between blue-collar and white-collar workers must be avoided.
Employers are also authorised to use objective job classifications (i.e.: Hay, etc.)
Starting on 1 January 2025
This is the deadline. As of this time, all differences in treatment based on a distinction between blue-collar and white-collar workers will be considered discriminatory.
What is the current state of progress?
We are halfway through phase 2. As an employer you now have fewer than 7 years left to harmonise your plans.
In accordance with the law, sectors are required to be first to end the differences between blue-collar and white-collar workers.
They will negotiate formal agreements that will determine the procedures to be implemented by the joint (sub)commissions to eliminate differences in treatment.
The agreements will result in collective agreements which must be filed with the FPS Employment clerk by 1 January 2023, at the latest, and must end the differences in treatment by 1 January 2025, at the latest.
Therefore, as an employer, you can wait for the results of the sector negotiations before proceeding with changes at your company. You must, however, be aware that you will only have two years left to complete the harmonisation.
There will be three more inter-professional agreements (IPA)* between the social partners during which the changes in the wage margin will be defined.
You can use the margin to gradually eliminate the differences between blue-collar and white-collar workers.
You will be demonstrating that you are active as an employer and that you are involved in the harmonisation process (also a legal requirement).
For more information about this issue or advice about the elimination of differences between the pension plans currently in effect in your company, please speak with your usual contact person at AG Employee Benefits.
(*) Group of 10 framework agreement reached every two years by the social partners’ representatives of the private sector.