On 30 March 2018, an Act was passed which substantially reforms the occupational pensions framework for contractual employees in the public sector. The Act was published in the Official Gazette on 17 April 2018 and most of its provisions entered into force on 1 May 2018. Among other things, the new Act encourages public sector employers to set up an occupational pension for their contractual personnel and stipulates that services performed as a non-permanent personnel member will no longer be eligible for the statutory pension as a permanent personnel member.


The main features of the draft text of the act have been outlined in a previous contribution (Eubelius Spotlights December 2017). There was a delay in its adoption due to a conflict of interests raised by the Assembly of the French Community Commission ("Commission communautaire française"). After the expiry of the legal suspension period for approval of a draft act in the event of a conflict of interests procedure, the Chamber of Representatives adopted the Act. 

Although the content of the draft act has not been changed, the entry into force of certain measures was delayed. Hence, most of the Act entered into force on 1 May 2018. It should be noted that services performed as a non-permanent personnel member will no longer be eligible for the statutory pension as a permanent personnel member if the appointment occurs after 1 December 2017.


And now? 

Several public sector employers have already communicated their intention to set up an occupational pension for their contractual personnel.

Almost a year ago, the Federal Government announced that it would set up an occupational pension for its contractual personnel as from 2018, with financing amounting to at least 3% of the wage, and it has released a budget of EUR 32 million for that purpose. This pension commitment targets the personnel of the Federal Government as well as of certain bodies depending of the Federal Government. The implementation of the occupational pension for these personnel members is currently being prepared.

The Flemish Government has also announced that it will set up an occupational pension for the contractual personnel of the Flemish public services. On 23 February 2018, the Flemish Government adopted a memorandum  setting out the main features of the envisaged occupational pension scheme. This memorandum provides, among other things, for an occupational pension scheme with defined contributions, which will be financed exclusively by employer's contributions amounting to 3% of the wages. The occupational pension will be administered by a pension fund that is yet to be set up. The aim is to build up occupational pension rights as from 1 January 2018, and to proceed to the first payments in mid-2019.

The Walloon Government recently released EUR 40 million over a period of three years in order to grant a premium to local authorities that set up an occupational pension for their contractual staff.

It is clear that, in a few months' time, a large number of contractual staff will start to build up an occupational person. This pension should, at least to a certain extent, compensate for the difference in pension in comparison to their colleagues who are permanent personnel members.


Conclusion

In the coming years, occupational pensions in the public sector will undoubtedly become increasingly important. It is therefore essential to be fully aware of the applicable statutory regime, which goes well beyond the Act of 30 March 2018 discussed above. We will organise a seminar on this topic in the autumn of 2018.