In December 2022, a.s.r. agreed on a new Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) with trade union De Unie. The CLA takes effect on 1 January 2023 and has a term of 18 months.
The following agreements were made:
All employees will receive a 4 percent wage increase as of 1 December 2022, and as of 1 July 2023, the salary will be increased by three percent.
Internal employees and temporary workers will receive a one-time payment of €2,000 gross in January 2023 to offset higher costs due to inflation. Colleagues working part-time will receive this amount pro rata.
The allowance for travel expenses will be increased to €0.21 per kilometer by 1 January 2023 and to €0.22 by 1 January 2024 (after approval of the 2023 tax plan).
The scheme allowing early retirement (RVU) and the sabbatical scheme will be maintained.
The regulation for filling special leave will be clarified and the 9 weeks of paid parental leave will go from 70% of the maximum daily wage to 70% of the salary.
Colleagues who wish to do so can work any second holiday, such as Boxing Day or Easter Monday, and take this official day off at another time as diversity day.
Most of the dilemmas a.s.r. faces relate to issues that do not directly affect employees. In 2022, however, there was a dilemma involving a.s.r. employees about whether or not to enter into a new CLA.
During intensive negotiations in the second half of 2022 with the unions on a new CLA, it became clear that the unions’ demands and a.s.r.’s wage offer were far apart. Driven by high inflation in 2022, the unions demanded a significant pay rise for employees.
The Executive Board of a.s.r. was thoroughly aware of the high inflation rate and had therefore decided to grant a one-off payment of € 1,000 pro rata to all employees to compensate for higher expenses in the summer of 2022, ahead of the CLA talks with the unions.
After more than 10 weeks of negotiations, a.s.r. ultimately submitted a final offer for an 18-month CLA with a 7% wage increase spread over two moments. Two of the three unions with which a.s.r. negotiated the CLA rejected this final offer.
At that point, a.s.r. faced a dilemma of what to do next. Allow the existing CLA to continue and renegotiate it in 2023, knowing it to be very unlikely for an agreement to be reached as yet, leaving employees in financial uncertainty for an extended period of time as to whether or not to expect awage increase, and if so, for what amount? Or conclude a CLA with one union, possibly resulting in less support for the new CLA but with the prospect of financial security of a wage increase to meet higher costs due to inflation?
Although a.s.r. would have preferred a CLA with all unions, the choice to provide financial clarity and security for employees was opted for and a CLA was concluded with one union. This does not alter the fact that a.s.r. is committed to a good relationship with all unions, knowing that in light of the expected business combination between Aegon Nederland and a.s.r., there will be talks with the unions about integrating working conditions once a new leading insurer in the Dutch market has been created after the merger.
In November 2021, a.s.r. and the trade unions agreed on the continuation of Het Andere Plan, the social plan of a.s.r. The social plan came into effect on 1 January 2022 and runs for three years. The renewed social plan includes agreements to encourage employees to develop themselves further and take control of their own future if a reorganisation is imminent.
In June 2022, all a.s.r employees and temporary workers were given a one-off pre-tax payment of € 1,000 as inflation compensation. In December 2022 a.s.r. announced that all a.s.r. employees and temporary workers will receive an additional one-off pre-tax payment of € 2,000 as inflation compensation, as part of the new CLA per 1 January 2023. This second allowance was paid with the salary payment of January 2023. Part-time workers were paid the allowances on a pro rata basis.
In 2022, the trade unions and the Dutch Association of Insurers, of which a.s.r. is a member, agreed on a new Social Agenda. The programme gives direction to developments in working in the insurance sector. Employers and employees in the insurance industry are part of a dynamic labour market and are required to respond to digitalisation, labour shortages, the impact of COVID-19 and the new pension legislation. The Social Agenda has a special focus on three themes: recognising and acknowledging talent, guiding people from job to job and increasing diversity and inclusion.
The frameworks for hybrid working were drawn up in 2021, following a survey of employee preferences via eMood. These frameworks are in line with time and location independent working, which has been part of the CLA since 2018.
The eMood survey showed that the majority of employees feel the need to be in the office and see each other regularly, a.s.r. encourages employees to work an average of 40% of their working days in the office. a.s.r. believes that some degree of physical proximity to colleagues has a positive effect on social cohesion, cooperation and innovation. Employees and managers in the teams can decide for themselves how they want to implement this guideline. All managers receive the "hybrid working" dashboard every month that they can use as a tool to discuss hybrid working with the team and make arrangements that are comfortable for everyone. This tool gives the teams at a.s.r. insight at group level into how often on average they came to the office, how this office presence is distributed over the weekdays, and how office presence differs by background characteristics such as age, gender, etc. The insights are not traceable to individuals and only meant as a tool to start the conversation together. The average office attendance slowly increased over the year, up to 32% on average in the last quarter of 2022.