IAS 19 Defined contribution and defined benefit plans

Last Updated on 19/02/2020 by 75385885

IAS 19 Employee BenefitsIAS 19 Defined contribution and defined benefit plans

IAS 19 Defined contribution and defined benefit plans

Post-employment benefits: distinction between defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans

26 Post-employment benefits include items such as the following:

  1. retirement benefits (eg pensions and lump sum payments on retirement); and
  2. other post-employment benefits, such as post-employment life insurance and post-employment medical care.

Arrangements whereby an entity provides post-employment benefits are post-employment benefit plans. An entity applies this Standard to all such arrangements whether or not they involve the establishment of a separate entity to receive contributions and to pay benefits.

27 Post-employment benefit plans are classified as either defined contribution plans or defined benefit plans, depending on the economic substance of the plan as derived from its principal terms and conditions.

28 Under defined contribution plans the entity’s legal or constructive obligation is limited to the amount that it agrees to contribute to the fund. Thus, the amount of the post-employment benefits received by the employee is determined by the amount of contributions paid by an entity (and perhaps also the employee) to a post-employment benefit plan or to an insurance company, together with investment returns arising from the contributions. In consequence, actuarial risk (that benefits will be less than expected) and investment risk (that assets invested will be insufficient to meet expected benefits) fall, in substance, on the employee.

29 Examples of cases where an entity’s obligation is not limited to the amount that it agrees to contribute to the fund are when the entity has a legal or constructive obligation through:

  1. a plan benefit formula that is not linked solely to the amount of contributions and requires the entity to provide further contributions if assets are insufficient to meet the benefits in the plan benefit formula;
  2. a guarantee, either indirectly through a plan or directly, of a specified return on contributions; or
  3. those informal practices that give rise to a constructive obligation. For example, a constructive obligation may arise where an entity has a history of increasing benefits for former employees to keep pace with inflation even where there is no legal obligation to do so.

30 Under defined benefit plans:

  1. the entity’s obligation is to provide the agreed benefits to current and former employees; and
  2. actuarial risk (that benefits will cost more than expected) and investment risk fall, in substance, on the entity. If actuarial or investment experience are worse than expected, the entity’s obligation may be increased.

31 Paragraphs 32–49 explain the distinction between defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans in the context of multi-employer plans, defined benefit plans that share risks between entities under common control, state plans and insured benefits.

Multi-employer plans

32 An entity shall classify a multi-employer plan as a defined contribution plan or a defined benefit plan under the terms of the plan (including any constructive obligation that goes beyond the formal terms).

33 If an entity participates in a multi-employer defined benefit plan, unless paragraph 34 applies, it shall:

  1. account for its proportionate share of the defined benefit obligation, plan assets and cost associated with the plan in the same way as for any other defined benefit plan; and
  2. disclose the information required by paragraphs 135–148 (excluding paragraph 148(d)).

34 When sufficient information is not available to use defined benefit accounting for a multi-employer defined benefit plan, an entity shall:

  1. account for the plan in accordance with paragraphs 51 and 52 as if it were a defined contribution plan; and
  2. disclose the information required by paragraph 148.

35 One example of a multi-employer defined benefit plan is one where:

  1. the plan is financed on a pay-as-you-go basis: contributions are set at a level that is expected to be sufficient to pay the benefits falling due in the same period; and future benefits earned during the current period will be paid out of future contributions; and
  2. employees’ benefits are determined by the length of their service and the participating entities have no realistic means of withdrawing from the plan without paying a contribution for the benefits earned by employees up to the date of withdrawal. Such a plan creates actuarial risk for the entity: if the ultimate cost of benefits already earned at the end of the reporting period is more than expected, the entity will have either to increase its contributions or to persuade employees to accept a reduction in benefits. Therefore, such a plan is a defined benefit plan.

36 Where sufficient information is available about a multi-employer defined benefit plan, an entity accounts for its proportionate share of the defined benefit obligation, plan assets and post-employment cost associated with the plan in the same way as for any other defined benefit plan. However, an entity may not be able to identify its share of the underlying financial position and performance of the plan with sufficient reliability for accounting purposes. This may occur if:

  1. the plan exposes the participating entities to actuarial risks associated with the current and former employees of other entities, with the result that there is no consistent and reliable basis for allocating the obligation, plan assets and cost to individual entities participating in the plan; or
  2. the entity does not have access to sufficient information about the plan to satisfy the requirements of this Standard.

In those cases, an entity accounts for the plan as if it were a defined contribution plan and discloses the information required by paragraph 148.

37 There may be a contractual agreement between the multi-employer plan and its participants that determines how the surplus in the plan will be distributed to the participants (or the deficit funded). A participant in a multi-employer plan with such an agreement that accounts for the plan as a defined contribution plan in accordance with paragraph 34 shall recognise the asset or liability that arises from the contractual agreement and the resulting income or expense in profit or loss.

Example illustrating paragraph 37

An entity participates in a multi-employer defined benefit plan that does not prepare plan valuations on an IAS 19 basis. It therefore accounts for the plan as if it were a defined contribution plan. A non-IAS 19 funding valuation shows a deficit of CU100 million (a) in the plan. The plan has agreed under contract a schedule of contributions with the participating employers in the plan that will eliminate the deficit over the next five years. The entity’s total contributions under the contract are CU8 million.

The entity recognises a liability for the contributions adjusted for the time value of money and an equal expense in profit or loss.

(a) In this Standard monetary amounts are denominated in ‘currency units (CU)’.

38 Multi-employer plans are distinct from group administration plans. A group administration plan is merely an aggregation of single employer plans combined to allow participating employers to pool their assets for investment purposes and reduce investment management and administration costs, but the claims of different employers are segregated for the sole benefit of their own employees.

Group administration plans pose no particular accounting problems because information is readily available to treat them in the same way as any other single employer plan and because such plans do not expose the participating entities to actuarial risks associated with the current and former employees of other entities. The definitions in this Standard require an entity to classify a group administration plan as a defined contribution plan or a defined benefit plan in accordance with the terms of the plan (including any constructive obligation that goes beyond the formal terms).

39 In determining when to recognise, and how to measure, a liability relating to the wind-up of a multi-employer defined benefit plan, or the entity’s withdrawal from a multi-employer defined benefit plan, an entity shall apply IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets.

Defined benefit plans that share risks between entities under common control

40 Defined benefit plans that share risks between entities under common control, for example, a parent and its subsidiaries, are not multi-employer plans.

41 An entity participating in such a plan shall obtain information about the plan as a whole measured in accordance with this Standard on the basis of assumptions that apply to the plan as a whole. If there is a contractual agreement or stated policy for charging to individual group entities the net defined benefit cost for the plan as a whole measured in accordance with this Standard, the entity shall, in its separate or individual financial statements, recognise the net defined benefit cost so charged.

If there is no such agreement or policy, the net defined benefit cost shall be recognised in the separate or individual financial statements of the group entity that is legally the sponsoring employer for the plan. The other group entities shall, in their separate or individual financial statements, recognise a cost equal to their contribution payable for the period.

42 Participation in such a plan is a related party transaction for each individual group entity. An entity shall therefore, in its separate or individual financial statements, disclose the information required by paragraph 149.

State plans

43 An entity shall account for a state plan in the same way as for a multi-employer plan (see paragraphs 32–39).

44 State plans are established by legislation to cover all entities (or all entities in a particular category, for example, a specific industry) and are operated by national or local government or by another body (for example, an autonomous agency created specifically for this purpose) that is not subject to control or influence by the reporting entity. Some plans established by an entity provide both compulsory benefits, as a substitute for benefits that would otherwise be covered under a state plan, and additional voluntary benefits. Such plans are not state plans.

45 State plans are characterised as defined benefit or defined contribution, depending on the entity’s obligation under the plan. Many state plans are funded on a pay-as-you-go basis: contributions are set at a level that is expected to be sufficient to pay the required benefits falling due in the same period; future benefits earned during the current period will be paid out of future contributions.

Nevertheless, in most state plans the entity has no legal or constructive obligation to pay those future benefits: its only obligation is to pay the contributions as they fall due and if the entity ceases to employ members of the state plan, it will have no obligation to pay the benefits earned by its own employees in previous years. For this reason, state plans are normally defined contribution plans. However, when a state plan is a defined benefit plan an entity applies paragraphs 32–39.

Insured benefits

46 An entity may pay insurance premiums to fund a post-employment benefit plan. The entity shall treat such a plan as a defined contribution plan unless the entity will have (either directly, or indirectly through the plan) a legal or constructive obligation either:

  1. to pay the employee benefits directly when they fall due; or
  2. to pay further amounts if the insurer does not pay all future employee benefits relating to employee service in the current and prior periods.

If the entity retains such a legal or constructive obligation, the entity shall treat the plan as a defined benefit plan.

47 The benefits insured by an insurance policy need not have a direct or automatic relationship with the entity’s obligation for employee benefits. Post-employment benefit plans involving insurance policies are subject to the same distinction between accounting and funding as other funded plans.

48 Where an entity funds a post-employment benefit obligation by contributing to an insurance policy under which the entity (either directly, indirectly through the plan, through the mechanism for setting future premiums or through a related party relationship with the insurer) retains a legal or constructive obligation, the payment of the premiums does not amount to a defined contribution arrangement. It follows that the entity:

  1. accounts for a qualifying insurance policy as a plan asset (see paragraph 8); and
  2. recognises other insurance policies as reimbursement rights (if the policies satisfy the criterion in paragraph 116).

49 Where an insurance policy is in the name of a specified plan participant or a group of plan participants and the entity does not have any legal or constructive obligation to cover any loss on the policy, the entity has no obligation to pay benefits to the employees and the insurer has sole responsibility for paying the benefits.

The payment of fixed premiums under such contracts is, in substance, the settlement of the employee benefit obligation, rather than an investment to meet the obligation. Consequently, the entity no longer has an asset or a liability. Therefore, an entity treats such payments as contributions to a defined contribution plan.

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Source EU rules on financial information disclosed by companies

 

Last Updated on 19/02/2020 by 75385885

Excerpts from IFRS Standards come from the Official Journal of the European Union (© European Union, https://eur-lex.europa.eu). Individual jurisdictions around the world may require or permit the use of (locally authorised and/or amended) IFRS Standards for all or some publicly listed companies.  The information provided on this website is for general information and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. The specific status of IFRS Standards should be checked in each individual jurisdiction. Use at your own risk. Annualreporting is an independent website and it is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or in any other way associated with the IFRS Foundation. For official information concerning IFRS Standards, visit IFRS.org or the local representative in your jurisdiction.

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