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Occupational pension schemes

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This Directive, adopted by the Council of the European Union on 24 July 1986, was intended to clarify ex-Article 119 of the EC Treaty (new Article 141) and define the scope and ways of applying the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes.

ACT

Council Directive 86/378/EEC of 24 July 1986 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes [Official Journal L 225, 12.08.1986] [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

The aim of this Directive is to implement the principle of equal treatment between men and women in occupational social security schemes *.

Scope

The Directive does not apply to:

  • individual contracts for self-employed workers;
  • schemes for self-employed workers having only one member;
  • insurance contracts for employees not involving the employer;
  • the optional provisions of occupational schemes offered individually to participants;
  • occupational schemes financed by contributions paid by workers on a voluntary basis.

The Directive does not prevent employers from granting pension supplements to individuals who have already reached the retirement age making them eligible for a pension under an occupational scheme, but who have not yet reached the retirement age making them eligible for a statutory retirement pension. The purpose of this is to bring the overall amount of benefit to, or closer to, the amount paid to persons of the other sex who have reached the statutory retirement age. Once the beneficiary of a supplement reaches the statutory retirement age, this will no longer be paid.

The Directive applies to the working population, including self-employed workers, workers whose activity is interrupted (by illness, maternity, accident or involuntary unemployment), persons seeking employment, and retired and disabled workers and their beneficiaries.

The Directive applies to occupational schemes providing protection against the risks of sickness, invalidity, old age, industrial accidents, occupational diseases and unemployment, including occupational schemes which provide for other social benefits, such as survivor's benefit and family allowances if intended for employed persons.

Principle of equal treatment

The principle of equal treatment means that there shall be no discrimination based on sex, in particular in respect of:

  • the scope of the schemes and the conditions of access to them;
  • the obligation to contribute and the calculation of the contributions;
  • the calculation of benefits and the conditions governing the duration and retention of entitlement to benefits.

The principle of equal treatment does not prejudice the provisions for the protection of women in respect of maternity.

The following gender-based provisions are contrary to the principle of equal treatment:

  • determining the persons who may participate in an occupational scheme;
  • setting the compulsory or optional nature of participation in an occupational scheme;
  • laying down different rules on the age of entry into the scheme or the minimum period of employment or membership of the scheme required to obtain benefit;
  • laying down different rules on the reimbursement of contributions;
  • setting different conditions for the granting of benefits or restricting such benefits to workers of one or other of the sexes;
  • setting different retirement ages;
  • suspending the retention or acquisition of rights during periods of maternity leave or leave for family reasons which are granted by law or agreement and are paid by the employer;
  • setting different levels for benefits, with some exceptions;
  • setting different levels for workers' contributions;
  • setting different levels for employers' contributions;
  • using different standards or standards applicable only to workers of a specified sex.

Legal implementation of the Directive

This Directive provides for Member States to take the steps needed to ensure that measures contrary to this principle which figure in legally compulsory collective agreements, businesses' staff rules or any other arrangements must be declared null and void or amended.

Any provisions of occupational schemes for employed workers contrary to the principle of equal treatment must be revised with retroactive effect from 17 May 1990, except in the case of workers or their beneficiaries who have, before that date, initiated legal proceedings or raised an equivalent claim under national law in order to benefit from equal treatment for men and women in accordance with Article 119 of the Treaty (new Article 141) as interpreted by the Court of Justice in the Barber judgement and subsequent related judgements.

Any provisions of occupational schemes for self-employed workers contrary to the principle of equal treatment must have been revised by 1 January 1993 at the latest.

With regard to schemes for self-employed workers, the Member States may defer compulsory application of the principle with regard to determining pensionable age for old-age and retirement pensions, to survivor's pensions or to the setting of different levels of workers' contributions, until the date provided for in the Directive at the latest.

A provision enabling men and women to benefit from a flexible retirement age system is not incompatible with the Directive.

Any person who is damaged by failure to apply the principle must be able to pursue his or her claim before the courts.

Workers must be protected against dismissal constituting a response on the part of the employer to a complaint lodged or a legal action brought to enforce compliance with the principle of equal treatment.

Key terms used in the Act
  • Occupational social security schemes: schemes whose purpose is to provide workers, whether employees or self-employed, in an undertaking or group of undertakings, area of economic activity, occupational sector or group of sectors with benefits intended to supplement the benefits provided by statutory social security schemes or to replace them, whether membership of such schemes is compulsory or optional.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force and expiry dateDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 86/378/EEC30.07.1986 - 15.08.200931.07.1989OJ L 225, 12.08.1986
Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 96/97/EC09.03.199701.07.1997OJ L 46, 17.2.1997

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast)

The Member States are to comply with this Directive by no later than 15 August 2008. It will repeal Directives 75/117/EEC, 76/207/EEC, 86/378/EEC and 97/80/EC on 15 August 2009.

Council Directive 96/97/EC of 20 December 1996 amending Directive 86/378/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes [Official Journal L 46, 17.02.1997]

Corrigendum to Council Directive 86/378/EEC of 24 July 1986 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes [Official Journal L 51, 20.02.1987] [Does not concern the English version]

Corrigendum to Council Directive 86/378/EEC of 24 July 1986 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes [Official Journal L 283, 4.10.1986]

Corrigendum to Council Directive 86/378/EEC of 24 July 1986 on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in occupational social security schemes [Official Journal L 225, 12.08.1986].

Last updated: 30.07.2007
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