BELGIUM - The existing law on anti discrimination is ill-suited to pension funds and should be revised to provide extra clarification, according to the Belgian Association of Pension Funds (BPFA).
Hugo Clemeur, secretary general of the BPFA, said the law was inappropriate because issues of ethnic discrimination such as religion or skin colour were irrelevant to pensions.
“In pensions, we never make any distinction about colour or religion,” he said. “The law also involves issues of age and sex, and if you drop those two things you do not have a plan at all anymore.
“We should clarify that a pension plan can not exist until you define a pensionable age, and that fixing an age is not a discrimination. Take early retirement schemes for example - are they discriminatory?”
The BPFA plans to establish a working group to consider the issues, to decide what can be done under the present legal regime and what should be changed eventually by law.
In January, the Belgian minister for pensions, Bruno Tobback, told Global Pensions that a working group within the government’s Commission on Pensions had been considering the law and was due to report its position shortly.
The government working group is comprised of employee and employer organisations in the financial market. At the time the minister said the commission’s findings would determine whether any changes in law would be necessary. The commission is still to issue its report.
By Lisa Haines
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