Unipol Banca, Italy: Make work pay – make work attractive
Unipol Banca and the trades unions signed an agreement introducing a company savings scheme that is financed by means of three different sources: a percentage of the worker’s wage, a percentage of the end-of-employment allowance and a consistent contribution provided directly by the company. The bank, through an insurance company, foresees minimum guaranteed earnings. The company contribution to the scheme is higher than the average rate, and negotiation impacts on the final amount of contributions.
Unipol Banca SpA, formed in 1998, is the leading company of the group of the same name. The bank has 250 branches in Italy; the head office is in Bologna.
On 30 April 2006, Unipol comprised 1,626 employees, 527 of whom were women. The management consists of 16 members, of whom 2 are women. Unipol Banca SpA is a member of the employer association ABI (Associazione Bancaria Italiana).
There are five trades unions representing Unipol Bank (Fisac-Cgil, Fiba-Cisl, Uil.ca-Uil, Falcri and Fabi). Four of them work together and are coordinated by their national secretariats; the fifth (Fabi) is an autonomous trade union that acts separately. The dialogue among the five unions, although there often are different points of view, has always been very positive. Currently, a programme to renew the company agreement has been proposed to the company. The programme is the result of a positive collaboration between the trade unions.
Union density is about 65%, although only 10 to 20% of the union members actually take part in union actions. This high degree of interaction between the management and the trades unions results in mutual respect and a continuous tendency for dialogue.
Description of the initiative
In 1991, the social partners set up a collectively-agreed, closed-end pension fund through a company agreement signed by BANEC (currently named UNIPOL) and by the internal trades unions. The change in Italy’s demographic balance, brought about by increasing life expectancy and a decrease in the fertility rate, as well as greater unemployment, contributed to the crisis in Italy’s compulsory public pension cornerstone. Public pensions are thus paid by the contributions of a diminishing number of active workers, while the number of retired workers continues to increase. Those were the most important factors that led to the creation of the fund.
From 1991 until now, the company agreement on the complementary pension fund has changed several times. To comply with the legislative bill number 124, dated 21 April 1993, the company introduced the supplementary pension system to guarantee extra pension benefits in addition to those paid by the obligatory pension system. In addition, continuous negotiations between the company and the trades unions establish the amount of the contributions.
The Pension Fund, through its statute, established a joint governing board. Currently, the chairman of the board is a member of company management and the vice-president is an employee’s representative. The board is responsible for the pension fund.
The fund does not manage workers’ contributions directly; rather it is managed by the insurance company, Unipol Assicurazioni. This was the result of a convention between the Pension Fund (the governing board) and the insurance company.
As an innovative aspect, the insurance company assures a ‘guaranteed minimum earning’ (rendimento minimo garantito) equal to 3%. The fund is a ‘welfare’ fund that seeks to avoid any kind of speculation. The fund is created with the spirit of guaranteeing extra pension benefits without any chance of losses, ensuring that almost all employees are part of the scheme.
The savings scheme is an individual capitalisation scheme. Each employee has their own position in the scheme. The saving scheme is funded by three different sources:
- The worker’s wage, a percentage of the gross monthly pay. The company agreement establishes that each worker can contribute to the scheme at a minimum of 0.25% and a maximum of 6%. Currently, 340 workers contribute the minimum and 63 contribute the maximum of 6%.
- The contribution of the company depends on the seniority of the employee. For those workers who made part of a saving scheme before April 1993, the company contributes 4.25%; for the other workers the company will contribute a percentage between 2.5% and 4%.
- A percentage of the end-of-employment allowance, the so-called Trattamento di fine rapporto (TFR). The TFR is a lump-sum payment equal to about 7% of the gross annual salary, accrued on an annual basis and adjusted for inflation. The TFR is usually paid at the end of employment and its original aim was to guarantee workers an adequate income while they waited for their pensions.
It is a closed-end fund, which means that it is only accessible for those Unipol employees who have an open-ended contract. Over 94% of the employees who have access to the scheme joined it.
The pension fund is being monitored by a special public watchdog committee, COVIP (Commissione di Vigilanza sui fondi pensione).
There have been no difficulties documented, as there is regular dialogue between the social partners.
In 1991, Unipol and the trades unions created a company agreement that introduced a supplementary pension fund. In 1993, the national norm on the supplementary pension system was established.
Its innovative aspect is the ‘guaranteed minimum earning’ provided by an insurance company. Once an employee is part of the scheme, they will not bear any losses, as the insurance company provides a minimum contribution of 3%. This provides a safety net for employees.
Constant collaboration between the company, the trades unions and the insurance company has contributed to the success of the fund. Over the years, as a result of positive cooperation between the social partners, several company agreements have raised the contributions of the company. The company contribution (2.5% to 4.25%) to the scheme is higher than the average rate (2.5% to 3%) in this industrial sector.
The fund is available to all the employees that have an open-ended contract at Unipol. There are 1,626 employees at Unipol, of whom 1,554 have open-ended contracts. Of the latter, 1,457 workers (94%) have joined the scheme.
Throughout its existence, the saving scheme has been seen as a simple, flexible and transparent product. The employees have never complained about the working of the scheme, as the high participation rate demonstrates. They find themselves in a win-win situation to make their future more secure.
Exemplary and contextual factors
The savings scheme is an exemplary case for the banking sector. The company contributions are higher than the average rate and negotiations between the social partners ensure the continued success of the scheme. In addition, the fund is run by an insurance company, which provides a guaranteed minimum earning; thus an employee can only benefit by taking part in the scheme.
Davide Dazzi, Fondazione Istituto per il Lavoro, Bologna