Across PostNL, HR services has processes and systems in place to ensure we comply with laws and regulations. User-friendly and reliable HR systems and customer-oriented HR services ensure that our people can do their job well, while HR services contribute to suitable employment conditions. We have a mix of people working for and with us, from internal employees to those employed through logistics partners. This includes people employed by transport partners and external agency staff, both based on hours-worked and executed work packages in parcel sorting. In 2022 we realised several milestones, such as the renewal of CLA agreements for Parcels and Mail in the Netherlands. However, we also experienced several challenges, including the alleged breaches of applicable social laws and regulations in Belgium.
PostNL works with 220 delivery partners in Belgium, who employ around 1,500 parcel deliverers. We want to be a solid and socially responsible partner, and aim to work with highly satisfied delivery partners and deliverers. Many of these delivery partners and deliverers have worked with us for more then ten years and are pleased with our cooperative approach.
For example, we periodically discuss and adapt their compensation with them, and regularly review the compliance of delivery partners on several relevant social laws.
In 2021, the labour inspectorate in Belgium noted alleged breaches of applicable social laws and regulations while carrying out their inspections. Based on their findings, charges were filed against PostNL for false self-employment, illegal posting of workers, as well as being an accomplice for not paying social contributions in these cases. This is despite PostNL not being the employer of the people concerned. The court hearing in these cases took place in September 2022.
In January 2022, PostNL became subject to a criminal investigation by the Belgian investigative judge into alleged breaches of labour law in Belgium in respect to delivery partners of PostNL. As part of this investigation, on 28 March 2022 two of our depots were temporarily sealed off and three of our colleagues were even arrested and eventually released. We stand behind and support our colleagues. Pending the ongoing investigation by the investigative judge the aforementioned court case has been postponed, against which we have filed an appeal.
PostNL has required evidence that delivery partners pay their salaried employees in accordance with the applicable collective agreement (the BGV collective labour agreement) for a number of years. This was possible in a variety of ways, for example through specific certifications or the PayChecked quality mark certificates. In 2022 we set PayChecked as the standard for all delivery partners across our networks to prove adequate payment for their employees. If the audit requirements of the Paychecked organisation are met, delivery partners receive a PayChecked certificate and are registered in the publicly accessible Paychecked Register.
At the end of 2022, the vast majority of delivery partners held a PayChecked certificate and a small percentage were in the process of obtaining one. A limited number of contracts with delivery partners were cancelled in 2022 for not attaining the PayChecked requirements in time.
We agreed a new collective labour agreement (CLA) for nearly 16,500 mail deliverers with the Dutch trade unions Bond van Post Personeel (BVPP), CNV and FNV in 2022. The agreement includes a structural pay rise of 4% effective 1 January 2022 and another 4% effective 1 January 2023. The new CLA runs from 1 October 2021 through to 31 December 2023. At the beginning of 2023, PostNL agreed new collective labour agreements (CLAs) with two trade unions covering PostNL and Saturday deliverers.
The agreements involve a structural wage rise totalling 9.5% over two years, with the lowest pay grades awarded relatively the highest increases. The first part of the rise was paid in December 2022 and a 5% rise, split in three steps, will accrue to all employees governed by the CLAs from 1 June 2023. These three increments involve 2% in June 2023 and 2% in September 2023, plus 1% in January 2024. In addition, an extra gross payment of 1.5% of annual salary will be paid in February 2023. The CLA for PostNL will apply to nearly 18,000 people, with the one for Saturday deliverers covering around 200.
PostNL respects the minimum wage level and believes in equal pay for equal work, irrespective of gender or background. Our aim is to align the remuneration of all groups of employees within PostNL, establishing internal consistency within areas such as salary structure and guidelines for salary increases.
While we are working towards measuring a possible Gender Pay Gap, the volume and complexity of measuring this metric means we are unable to report a reliable figure in 2022. We expect to report this over 2023.
Equal pay is secured by collective labour agreements, which have been agreed upon with trade unions, and by our job grading system. We will continue to investigate pay levels in 2023 and will embed these analyses in our regular processes.
Based on a joint decision by PostNL, the pension fund and the trade unions, PostNL’s pension plan was amended from 31 December 2022. One particularly relevant amendment saw the removal of the former annual indexation cap of 4%, meaning that, combined with the solid financial position of the pension fund, it was possible to increase pensions by 10% from 1 January 2023. More details on these changes can be found in the 'Financial value' chapter.