IAS 19, increase in pensions liabilities following High Court judgement regarding equalisation of benefits between men and women

HSBC Holdings plc – Annual report – 31 December 2018

Industry: banking

6 Employee compensation and benefits (extract)

Post-employment benefit plans (extract)

Guaranteed minimum pension (‘GMP’) equalisation

On 26 October 2018, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales issued a judgment in a claim between Lloyds Banking Group Pension Trustees Limited as claimant and Lloyds Bank plc and others as defendants regarding the rights of men and women to equal treatment in relation to their benefits from certain pension schemes.

The judgment concluded that the claimant is under a duty to amend the schemes in order to equalise benefits for men and women in relation to GMP benefits. The judgment also provided comments on the method to be adopted in order to equalise benefits, on the period during which a member can claim in respect of previously underpaid benefits, and on what should be done in relation to benefits that have been transferred into, and out of, the relevant schemes.

The issues determined by the judgment arise in relation to many other occupational pension schemes and consequently will result in an increase in the principal plan’s liabilities. We have estimated the financial effect of equalising benefits in respect of GMPs, and any potential conversion of GMPs into non-GMP benefits, to be an approximate 0.8% increase in the plan’s liabilities, or £177m ($226m) on the IAS19 basis as at 31 December 2018. This has been recognised as a past service cost in profit and loss. The estimate was performed based on Method C2, which compares the accumulated benefits, with interest, payable to a member on their ‘own sex’ and an ‘opposite sex’ basis and each year pays the amount necessary to ensure the higher of the two accumulated amounts has been paid.