EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Fortis Banque Luxembourg, Luxembourg: Training/Health and well-being/Wage policy


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Financial services
Target Groups: 
Initiative Types: 
developmentetcFlexible working practicesHealth and well-beingTrainingWage Policy


Organisational background


The HR Department of Fortis Banque Luxembourg SA (FBL) offers a range of human resource strategies to enable its employees to have a good work–life balance. The measures for working-time flexibilisation, qualification and health promotion (for example, the further education measure 'Be part of the future') are specifically geared to older employees and are aimed at counteracting employment and qualification risks.

The Fortis Banque Luxembourg SA (FBL) was founded in 1919 under the name of Banque Générale du Luxembourg (BGL). The financial services of FBL comprise the functions of retail, private, commercial and merchant banking.

FBL employs a total of 2,523 people (2006), with women making up almost 47% of the workforce. Most of the staff are highly qualified employees. Currently, 18% of employees, mainly women, work part time and the trend towards part-time work is on the increase. The average age of employees is 39.68 years. Overall, the proportion of older staff members is relatively low, with only 109 employees in the age group 55-59. Among those aged above 50, the proportion of women is markedly lower, which reflects the overall employment situation of older women in Luxembourg.

The acquisition of BGL by the Belgian-Dutch Fortis Group in 2000 marked the beginning of the adaptation of the organisational structure to the Fortis Group. Thus, the Fortis Banque, as the largest unit of the group in Luxembourg, took on additional support functions relating, for example, to HR management and marketing. In 2005, the bank was renamed Fortis Banque Luxembourg as a part of the integration process.

FBL's works council consists of 18 members, five of whom have been permanently released from work to perform their duties. The works council is involved through its participation in various bodies and committees, as well as in the regular planning meetings.

Good practice today

FBL offers a broad spectrum of HR measures for all age groups. Employee enhancement is regarded as part of the development of the company. By means of its HR policy, the company seeks to improve the work-life balance of its employees, to increase their satisfaction and motivation, and to retain them. This bond is maintained even after retirement since the company organises regular meetings for former employees.

As a result of repeated requests from older staff members, a measure for part-time work from the age of 52 onwards was initiated in cooperation with the works council. Thus, employees above the age of 52 are entitled to a working-time reduction. If a job description or the scope of duties does not allow for part-time work, an adequate substitute job is created within the company, so that the respective employee is able to work part time. (This measure constitutes a continuation of the already implemented working-time strategies that apply for all age groups within FBL, such as flexitime, part-time work, working-time accounts and sabbatical leaves.) One of the aims of this 'part time' measure is to ease the transition into retirement by making more leisure time available in the last years of employment. Another aspect of this approach is that the company seeks to achieve a higher acceptance of part-time employees, as well as a sensitisation of staff members and executives. The flexible adaptation of working time to the respective life phases and needs of a good work–life balance is considered part of corporate policy.

A project that concentrated on counteracting gender-specific employment risks of older women was carried out in 2000. In view of the skills shortages in Luxembourg's labour market at that time and the concurrent growing demand for financial services, the measure aimed at the re-employment and permanent integration of female job returnees after their parental leaves. Thus, women aged 40+ were recruited in cooperation with the Administration de l’emploi (ADEM) and were trained by the further education institution Zarabina asbl. in the following areas: computer training; bank-related training; language courses; and personal training.

The further education measure 'Be part of the future' was developed to counteract the employment and qualification risks of older employees with a long job tenure. Thus, training courses geared specifically to older age groups (45+) were drawn up. These also impart strategies of lifelong learning, in addition to vocational further education, and are designed to support employees in their personal development.

In order to capitalise on employees' resources and at the same time to boost their skills, FBL's staff pass through various fields of work in terms of job rotation in the course of their individual careers. In this way, they become acquainted with other work processes and can bring their knowledge from their respective fields of activity into other areas.

The health prevention concept 'Check-up Medical', which was developed with the trade union, was implemented in 2006. Within its scope, employees aged between 45 and 55 can take part in a medical check-up, which is overseen by employee representatives and by the Association pour le santé au travail du secteur financier (ASTF). The data and results are kept strictly confidential and are only disclosed to the respective employee. The costs for the medical examination are borne by FBL. The aim of this measure is to raise health awareness of staff and to sensitise them to health prevention.

A further activity of the company in the field of health prevention is the organisation of a health and sports day for its employees. The in-house sports club offers various activities, including football, Nordic walking, tennis, cycling, aerobics and bowling. The foundation of the sports club can be attributed to the independent initiative of some employees. The club is financed by staff membership fees and yearly supplemental payments by FBL. In October 2006, a fitness centre was set up on the company's premises to facilitate the participation of employees in preventive sport activities.

In FBL's collective agreement, provision is made for older employees insofar as employees aged 50-54 are entitled to two additional leave days and employees aged 55+ are entitled to three additional leave days. The collective agreement stipulates that salaries are not scaled according to age brackets, but rather according to job tenure and qualification level.

FBL offers its staff members a supplementary occupational pension and, in addition, a one-off bonus payment upon retirement. The bonus is only paid out if the employee concerned has reached the statutory retirement age or an early retirement without deductions after at least 40 years of employment. Thus this measure is, in fact, an incentive strategy to stay in employment longer.

Since 2005, it has become possible to convert this bonus into time and to use it for a reduction of weekly working hours or for a reduction of total working time in terms of a partial retirement block model. Up to 8.5 days of leave per year and overtime as well can be credited to this 'working time account'. The 'accrued' time can be used in different phases of life, such as for further education measures or for an earlier retirement. Although the FBL's HR policy does not deploy early retirement measures, many older employees avail themselves of the statutory provisions for retirement after 40 contributory years and for the most part retire at 60.

The high rate of participation of FBL's employees in the various measures and offerings outlined above is an indicator of the effectiveness of the HR strategies. Thus, staff from all age groups regularly avail themselves of, for example, the medical check-ups and the fitness offerings. The low staff turnover rate — despite the current labour market situation and the high demand for qualified personnel in the financial services sector — suggests the positive effects of the human resource policy of Fortis Banque Luxembourg.

Further information

Contact: Christiane Deckenbrunnen, Head of Human Resources

Eliane Thines, Corporate Communications




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