Minister makes a series of proposals for pension reform

The pensions’ minister Karine Lalieux (Francophone socialist, photo above) has tabled a list of proposals for a fundamental reform of the pensions’ system in Belgium. Under Ms Lalieux’s proposals only those that had been in employment for at least 10 years would be entitled to a minimum pension. The rules on early retirement would be relaxed, allowing people that had been working for 42 years to retire from the age of 60 and the pension bonus for those that opt to work beyond their retirement date would be reintroduced. 

The pension’s minister hopes that her proposals will help the various parties in the federal coalition reach a compromise on reforms to our country’s pensions’ system. Last month the leader of the Flemish Liberals Egbert Lachaert suggested that only people that had been in employment for at least 20 years should be entitled to a minimum pension. This idea met with stiff opposition from the leaders of both the Flemish and Francophone socialists. All three parties are part of the coalition that makes up Belgium’s Federal Government. 

Ms Lalieux’s proposals meet the Flemish liberal leader half-way. She proposes a minimum pension that is conditional on people having worked (not having been unemployed or on long-term sick leave) for at least ten years and for an average of at least on third of their working life. She also proposes taking into account work experience and the time young people spend doing student jobs when calculating a person’s pension entitlement. Furthermore, the pensions’ minister believes that fact that even today women are more likely to take career breaks or work part-time to fulfil childcare commitments also needs to be taken into account. 

From 2024 everyone that has worked for 45 years will be entitled to a minimum monthly pension of 1,500 euro/month net. This measure has already been approved by the Federal Cabinet. Under the proposals anyone that has worked for 42 years will be able to take early retirement. Currently early retirement is only possible at 60 for people that have worked 44 years, from 61 after 43 years’ work and 63 after 42 years’ work.

This means that young people that start work at 18 have to carry on working until they are at least 61. Under the proposals they will be able to retire at 60. This brings them into line with those that go into higher education that, as people in this group don't start work until they are 21 or 22 and are able to retire after having worked for 42 years. 

Pension bonus

Another measure to encourage people to carry on working for longer is part-time is offering people the possibility to retire part-time and work part-time. From the date at which a person is entitled to take early retirement they would be able to opt to combine part-time work with a part-time pension.

The pensions minister says that her proposal would not entail any additional costs and that as it has already been agreed the cost of the minimum pension has already been budgeted for. She adds that by encouraging people to carry on working for longer the pensions’ system can remain affordable.  

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