Pension schemes for your employees, a checklist

Published by:
Checked 20 Apr 2023
5 min read
Nederlandse versie

Are you hiring personnel for the first time? In some industries it is mandatory to offer employees a pension through an industry pension fund (bedrijfstakpensioenfonds, bpf). In other industries, it is up to you to offer a pension or not. A pension scheme makes your company more attractive. Read how you can arrange a pension scheme for your employees in 10 steps.

1. Does your company have to offer a pension scheme?

In certain business sectors, companies have to offer their employees a pension. This is called a compulsory sector pension fund or bpf. Contact the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) to find out if this is true for your company. If so, you have to offer your employees a pension scheme within this pension fund.

You run a financial risk if you fail to do so. You may receive a notification that you have to join and register your employees with retroactive effect. You must then also pay overdue pension contributions. This may have consequences for your private assets.

Check whether temporary agency workers fall under a sector pension fund

In some business sectors all temporary workers, such as agency or payroll workers, must be registered with the compulsory sector pension fund.

Exemption (compulsory) pension fund

Do you not want to participate in the (compulsory) pension fund? Then you can ask permission for this from the board of the bpf. If you receive permission, you choose a pension scheme for yourself and your employees.

2. Check if you need to take out a compulsory occupational pension scheme

Occupational pension schemes exist for some occupational groups. Participation is often mandatory. For example for notaries, healthcare professions and professions in the harbour. Read which professions have a mandatory pension fund (in Dutch).

Do you yourself fall under an occupational pension scheme? Then the pension scheme does not apply to your employees. You must offer your employees a different pension scheme. For example, if you are a pharmacist, you will fall under the fund for pharmacists. But your employees have to be covered by the pension fund for pharmacy employees.

3. See what the Collective Labour Agreement states about pension

Even if your industry does not have an industry-wide pension fund, you are sometimes obliged to arrange a pension:

  • If you are a member of an employers' organisation or professional organisation that has concluded a Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) with one or more trade unions, and
  • if that CAO contains agreements about workers' pensions.

4. Provide your own pension scheme

Is there no compulsory pension scheme for you and your employees? Then you can decide whether you want to offer a pension and what the pension scheme looks like.

For example:

You can ask advice from an independent financial adviser. You can also find information about the execution of pension schemes at AFM, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (in Dutch).

Make your company attractive to employees

A pension scheme can make your company more attractive to new employees. And ensure that existing employees want to stay with you. Go to (in Dutch) for information about pensions for your employees. Would you like to set up your own pension scheme? Then also check the Step-by-step pension plan for employees in 6 steps (pdf, in Dutch) from the Labour Foundation (Stichting van de Arbeid).

5. Have your employees contribute to the pension premium

Each employee is required to pay a personal contribution. Does your company fall under a compulsory pension scheme? Then the maximum personal contribution is stated in the pension scheme or the collective agreement. Less is allowed, more is not.

6. Ensure that you meet your duty of care

Information about pensions usually goes through a pension administrator. This can be the pension fund or the pension insurer. But you also have to inform your staff about certain matters. This is called duty of care. Your pension fund or pension insurer can often help you with this.

You must:

  • inform your employee within one month of starting work whether they will participate in a pension scheme;
  • let them know how soon an offer will be made and who the pension administrator is;
  • inform the pension provider when the employee starts and what pension agreements have been made with the employee.

The pension provider then informs the employee about the characteristics of the scheme. And about situations that require an action from your employee. For example:

  • opportunities to accrue extra pension.
  • the option to transfer accrued pension to the new pension scheme.
  • the possibility to continue the pension scheme if the employee starts their own company.

7. Fulfil your registration and payment obligations

According to the Pensions Act, you are obliged to register employees with a pension fund. That is called the obligation to register. If you fail to do so, you may be fined.

You also have a payment obligation. You can often make good agreements with your pension fund about the how and when you make your payments. But if you fail to pay, the pension fund can take substantial measures to safeguard pensions, sometimes with retroactive effect. You are personally liable if you default. Do you have trouble paying? Always report payment problems to your pension fund and look for a solution together.

8. Check the options for additional pension

Additional pension, as an addition to the AOW, allows your employees to build up extra pension. Sometimes additional pension is mandatory. This is stated in the pension scheme of the sector pension fund or in your CAO. In some cases you may decide if you offer your employees additional pension.

9. Do not just change your pension scheme

You are not allowed to simply change your pension scheme: it is part of the employment conditions. You can only change the scheme if you have your employees’ permission. Sometimes there is a provision in the pension scheme or CAO that one-sided adjustment is allowed, but only in serious circumstances. For example, if your company is in danger of going bankrupt. Or because the legislation or the CAO changes. You must then inform your employees with a proposed amendment.

10. Research your options

  • The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) has devised a step-by-step plan for offering your employees a pension scheme.
  • All pension funds must report to De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) after incorporation. The pension funds are listed in DNB's register for pension funds.
  • See the overview (in Dutch) of general, company, occupational and industry pension funds on the website of the Pension Federation.
  • Employers' and employees' organisations or the pension fund can tell you more about the pension scheme that has been taken out.
  • Salary offices know how mandatory industry and occupational pension funds work. And they know about the wage tax return and uniform pension tax return.
  • Talk to other business owners about pensions on the entrepreneurs' forum
  • Download the KVK Book of Finance (pdf).

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Statistics: employer contribution to pension

The graph shows the total employer contributions in the Netherlands per year for pension, early retirement and similar (savings) schemes for old-age provision.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW