2.3.1 Work contracted out and other external expenses

Accounting policies

Operating expenses related to ordinary activities are recognised on an accrual basis. In case it is not possible to directly relate the operating expenses to a particular income earned or expected future income, these expenses are recognised in the period incurred.

Lease expenses

Lease expenses relate to short-term leases and leases of which the underlying assets are of low value. Payments made (net of any incentives received from the lessor) are charged to the income statement as incurred during the period of the lease.

PostNL Work contracted out and other external expenses in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Mail in the Netherlands333281
PostNL Other7161
Work contracted out1,3881,408
Rent & lease expenses1213
External temporary staff170171

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Costs of work contracted out and other external expenses increased by €22 million in 2023 mainly due to cost increases caused by inflation and service expansion within Parcels.

2.3.2 Salaries, pensions and social security contributions

PostNL Salaries, pensions and social security contributions in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Social security charges129135
Salaries and social security charges9971,024
Defined benefit plans1600
Defined contribution plans1292
Regular pension charges17292
Impact change in accounting classification of main pension plan1,354
Total pension charges1,52692
Net additions/(releases) from restructuring provisions(1)5
Share-based payments22
Gross salaries, pensions and social security contributions2,5231,125
Capitalised salaries, pensions and social security contributions(19)(24)

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In 2023, pension charges decreased by €1,434 million, mainly resulting from the expenses related to the change in accounting classification of our main pension plan in 2022. See note 3.5 Provisions for pension liabilities for more information on pensions, note 3.6 Other provisions for the net additions from restructuring provisions and note 3.3 Intangible fixed assets for the capitalised salary costs, pensions and social security contributions related to IT investments.

PostNL Workforce as indicated
2022, 2023

Mail in the Netherlands25,72523,091
PostNL Other1,6221,611
Total at year end35,64733,488
Full-time equivalents (FTEs)
Mail in the Netherlands13,05511,706
PostNL Other1,5141,590
Total year average21,71520,851
External temporary staff year average2,6472,623
  1. Including temporary personnel on our payroll; the external temporary staff are additional.

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The total headcount of PostNL decreased by 2,159 employees. The decrease within Mail in the Netherlands mainly relates to the impact of volume decline and cost savings initiatives. In addition, staffing at Mail in the Netherlands was affected by an ongoing tight labor market. The increase in the number of employees at Parcels was due to greater use of own employees instead of delivery partners. In addition, around 350 retail and customer care employees were transferred from Mail in the Netherlands to Parcels. The workforce is also measured in FTEs based on the hours worked divided by the local standard. In 2023, the average number of FTEs decreased by 864 FTEs compared to 2022. The average number of employees working in the Netherlands was 19,913 FTEs (2022: 20,772) and outside the Netherlands was 938 FTEs (2022: 943).

2.3.3 Depreciation, amortisation and impairments

PostNL Depreciation, amortisation and impairments in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Amortisation of intangible assets4455
Impairment of intangible assets 1
Depreciation property, plant and equipment4649
Depreciation right-of-use assets6672

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In 2023, amortisation of intangible assets related to software for €52 million (2022: €41 million) and other intangibles for €4 million (2022: €3 million). The increase in amortisation of software relates to increased investments in IT projects.

2.3.4 Other operating expenses

The other operating expenses of €130 million (2022: €128 million) consist of IT, communication, office, travel, consulting and training expenses and other shared services costs.

In 2023, total incurred KPMG audit fees amounted to €2.2 million (2022: €2.1 million).

PostNL Audit fees in million
2022, 2023

Year ended at 31 December20222023
Audit fees1.61.5
Audit-related fees0.50.7
Tax advisory fees0.00.0
Other non-audit services0.00.0

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Audit fees include fees from the audit of the financial statements. Audit-related services include fees from assurance engagements related to the non-financial information, regulatory reporting obligations, employee benefit plan data, Green Bond report and legal demergers.

In accordance with Dutch legislation, article 2:382a of the Dutch Civil Code, the total audit and audit-related fees charged by the auditor KPMG based in the Netherlands amounted to €2.1 million (2022: €2.0 million), subdivided into audit services of €1.4 million and audit-related services of €0.7 million.