NETHERLANDS - The Dutch parliament has extended the period within which workers must choose between "levensloop" (life course) and "sparloon" schemes, until 1 July 2006.
The ruling, made on November 17, follows complaints that the initial 1 January 2006 deadline did not give those workers with a choice between one of the two schemes enough time to decide.
Since September 2005, all Dutch employees have had the right to require their employer to transfer their savings into a levensloop (life course) scheme which has tax benefits designed to facilitate a career break in which the employee could act as a carer, embark on further study, or potentially take early retirement.
Some, but not all workers are offered a sparloon savings scheme by their employer, which also carries tax benefits for the employee. These workers must decide whether to swap their savings out of sparloon and into the levensloop arrangement, or vice versa.
Savings put into one of the schemes between January and 1 July can be transferred during the extension. Thereafter, employees must abide by their choice of scheme.
A spokeswoman for the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken) said the proliferation of information regarding varying interest rates by institutions eager to win business from employees may have contributed to the need for an extension.
This had prompted parties such as the Christian Democrats and the socialist PvDA to complain that workers had not been given enough time to decide, she said.
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