The Act of 18 December 2015 has thoroughly modified the AOP with regard to several topics such as:
- Introduction of link between the payment of the occupational pension benefits and taking up the (early) state pension;
- Prohibition of early retirement incentives;
- Introduction of a minimum death cover for deferred plan members (“sleepers”);
- Modification of the legal minimum guaranteed return.
Most of the rules of the new act come into force as from 1 January 2016 and also apply to existing pension plans. There are several transitional measures in place for existing pension plans.
The legislator has given organisers until 31 December 2018 to formally modify their existing pension plan rules in order to align them with the modified legislation. In the meantime and until the formal modification of the pension plan rules, the AOP takes precedence over the pension plan rules for all (active and deferred) plan members whose occupational pension benefits have not been paid out before 1 January 2016.
If the organiser introduces a new pension plan after 1 January 2016, the rules of such a new plan have to be in line with the new legislation from its introduction.
If the existing (open) pension plan still provides for a retirement age which is lower than the legal retirement age (currently 65 years), the organiser should ensure that the retirement age is raised to the legal retirement age for employees who enter into service as from 1 January 2019.
> Action point
Make sure your existing pension plan rules are formally modified in line with the modified AOP. You still have time until 31 December 2018 to implement the necessary modifications. Please keep in mind the information (and consultation) obligations and the legal modification procedure. If the retirement age in your existing (open) pension plan is still lower than the legal retirement age, raise the retirement age for employees who enter into service as from 1 January 2019.