Questions that arise in connection with pension schemes are usually fairly complex. This results not only from the variety of options in which they can be implemented – ranging from employers‘ direct pension promises (“direct commitments”) to the highly popular direct insurance, various types of pension funds, to support funds (indirect pension commitments), which also involve a third party. Additionally, the legal bases of occupational pension schemes are frequently quite different in practice. Along with possible rights based on individual commitments or overall commitments by employers, numerous pension entitlements are based on (group/central) shop agreements. Employees may also derive pension claims against their employers directly from the Occupational Pensions Act.
Since in a lot of cases a large number of employees benefit from pension commitments and pension entitlements regularly tend to build up over decades, employers are usually facing considerable costs when financing pension entitlements. This also applies to risks if mistakes are made in connection with occupational pension schemes, such as in cases of a partial discontinuation or a reorganization of pension schemes. For employees benefiting from the schemes, the pension plans frequently represent an important pillar of their financial life planning and the relationship to the employer can extend far beyond the term of the active employment relationship.
Our colleagues in the Employment Law Practice Group who are specializing in this field are experts in meeting the special challenges that occupational pension law in Germany presents. The members of our Pensions Task Force specifically advise on issues relating to the Occupational Pensions Act – not only as relates to employees, but also with regard to commitments made to executive board members, general managers, and shareholders. This enables us to offer our clients practical advice on how to deal with the requirements placed on employers by the Occupational Pensions Act, which is being “modernized” by the legislator on a regular basis. Examples may include establishing, continuing, and amending of pension commitments of all kinds, including the closure of pension schemes. Our advice also encompasses issues relating to the financing, accounting, and insolvency protection of pension entitlements. Where required, we regularly collaborate with specialists in tax law or actuarial mathematics – both within and outside our firm.
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If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.