The Belgian federal government introduced a financial incentive in 2007 (following on from the 2005 Generation Pact) for people in the private sector to work longer: the so-called “pension bonus”. This was a temporary measure. Its continued existence was to depend in part on whether it generated the desired effect – i.e. an increase in the average retirement age.
The pension bonus increases the statutory pension (i.e. the so-called first-pillar pension) for both employees and the self-employed provided they remain active on the labour market. Workers start earning a “pension bonus” from 1 January of the year in which they turn 62 (or if they can prove they have worked for 44 years). For employees, this bonus is EUR 2.2524 (from 1 February 2012) per working day, assuming (a maximum of) 26 working days a month. For self-employed persons, an extra annual statutory pension of EUR 175.69 is earned (as from 1 February 2012) for each quarter worked.
A new proposed law intends to tackle the uncertainty due to the temporary nature of the pension bonus measure. As the law presently stands, the accrued pension bonus can be lost if the measure is not extended and the amount of statutory pension has not yet been calculated. In other words, the risk that the measure might not be extended could at present encourage some workers to retire early in order to lock in the pension bonus.
A bill introduced on 18 July 2012 eliminates this uncertainty. It should guarantee that any accrued pension bonus cannot be lost, irrespective of whether or not the 2007 measure is extended.