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Securing you an early retirement

23 April 2024

Want to continue working until you're 70? It's an impossible prospect for many people working in professions such as seafaring. Nautilus executive officer Richard Moti explains that the Union is working in the Netherlands to ensure that members are able to stop working at a reasonable age

It is hardly even worth discussing among employees in the maritime sector: clearly, it isn't possible to continue working until the state pension age.

Executive officer Richard Moti

For someone born in the year 2000, the expected state pension age in the Netherlands has now risen to 70. But there is still no agreement between trade unions and the national employers' organisation (VNO-NCW) to extend and improve the existing Early Retirement Scheme (RVU) to reflect this change – and time is running out, because the current RVU scheme is temporary and ends in 2025.

What is the RVU?

In 2005, the Dutch government abolished early retirement schemes. In addition to changes in the pension rules, a tax penalty was also introduced. Offering an arrangement to an older employee to stop working earlier therefore became virtually impossible.

A few years later, the state pension age was also increased. A very undesirable situation has therefore arisen for employees with a physically demanding job.

The employers' organisation, VNO-NCW, is in trouble. it believes that every employee can continue working until the state pension age – but we know that this is unacceptable.

Nautilus International therefore worked together with the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions (FNV) to give employees with this kind of demanding job the opportunity to stop working earlier.

In 2021, the tax penalty on early retirement schemes was, at last, temporarily and partially abolished with the introduction of the RVU scheme.

Under this scheme, until 2025 an employer may pay out an amount of up to €2,182 gross per month for a maximum period of three years for an early retirement scheme, and the employer will not receive a tax penalty for doing so during this period.

The net amount of this is equal to the amount of a Dutch basic state pension (AOW) for a single person. In effect, an employee with a demanding occupation can now receive an amount equal to the AOW up to three years earlier.

Nautilus International has signed agreements about instituting this scheme with employers in various collective bargaining agreements, though unfortunately not all employers are participating as yet.

However, if the RVU scheme is not extended in time, virtually no one will be able to retire early.

What is Nautilus doing?

To support Dutch seafarers and ensure that work in the maritime sector remains attractive, an arrangement to be able to stop working earlier is a dire necessity. The RVU scheme must therefore be extended – and not temporarily this time, but indefinitely, so that in 10 or 20 years' time older employees will be able to retire earlier.

Unions also want an increase to the threshold under which there is no tax penalty. The amount is currently linked to the amount paid under the AOW pension to single individuals. In practice, this is too low for many employees to actually be able to stop work early. Trade unions therefore want an increase in the threshold amount to the level of an average income.

Finally, unions want to retain the freedom to agree which professions and positions are eligible to be classed as 'demanding work' in collective bargaining agreements with employers, and therefore which workers qualify for the RVU scheme.

It is necessary to reach an agreement with employers before the summer to ensure a smooth introduction of an extension and improvement of the RVU scheme.

Action on the way!

Together, we will put our shoulders to the wheel.

The employers' organisation, VNO-NCW, is in trouble. it believes that every employee can continue working until the state pension age – but we know that this is unacceptable. Together with the FNV, Nautilus International is preparing (fun) actions to make it clear to employers that an extension and improvement of the RVU scheme is necessary.


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