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Asian Review of Financial Research Vol.34 No.3 pp.125-154 https://www.doi.org/10.37197/ARFR.2021.34.3.5
A Study on the Protection Plan to Defined Benefit Retirement Pension Entitlement
Heejin Park Assistant Professor, School of Business, Pusan National University
Key Words : Retirement Pension, Defined Benefit Plans, Entitlement to Pension Benefit, Pension Benefit Guarantee Institution, and Minimum External Funding Ratio

Abstract

In order to ensure stable retirement life for employees, their rights to receive retirement pension benefits must be guaranteed. The claim that guaranteeing the entitlement to pension benefit is important and that ways to protect entitlement are necessary have been continued, there has been little improvement in this regard since the introduction of the “Retirement Benefit Guarantee Act”. Although this act implements the “Minimum External Funding Ratio Regulation”, the “Wage Bonds Priority Repayment System”, and the “Wage Bonds Guarantee System”, it is insufficient to protect the entitlement to pension benefits. First of all, the “Minimum External Funding Ratio Regulation” has a limitation in that a significant number of companies do not meet the minimum funding ratio, however there is no compulsory punishment for this. Next, the “Wage Bonds Priority Repayment System” and the “Wage Bonds Guarantee System” serves to guarantee workers' retirement benefit ex-post when employers fail to pay retirement benefit due to bankruptcy or financial difficulty. However, due to the limited coverage, it serves only as a function of guaranteeing the minimum cost of living for employees. In this study, we present a plan to guarantee retirement pension benefit of employees belonging to defined benefit entitlement according to the pension governance structure. In particular, we propose that the retirement benefits of employees under the current contract-based governance structure are guaranteed by the “Retirement Benefit Guarantee Fund,” which separates the retirement benefits from the current “Wage Bonds Guarantee Fund”. In addition, we propose to establish “Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund” operated by Pension Benefit Guarantee Institution to guarantee retirement benefits for members under the funded pension governance structure to be introduced in the near future. However, prior to the introduction of these benefit guarantee systems, it should be implemented on strengthening the regulation of the “Minimum External Funding Ratio Regulation” first. Meanwhile, in order to guarantee the payment of retirement benefit, workers' right to receive benefits must be protected at a reasonable level. In particular, it is necessary to legally establish eligibility criteria for payment guarantees and prohibit guarantees over a certain amount to prevent from moral hazard of employers and financial institutions. In addition, the “Retirement Benefit Guarantee Fund” and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund” should be operated under the government's agency along with compulsory subscription rather than voluntary subscription by the choice of the employer or trustee. This is because the government's initiative is needed to alleviate the problems of the payment guarantee mechanism that the aforementioned adverse selection and systematic risk cannot be controlled to some extent. Recently, there has been continuous argument that asset management behavior of retirement pensions should be improved as a way to increase the return on retirement pension assets. The most worrying part about the introduction of default options and fund-type retirement pensions under discussion for this purpose is the fact that the current retirement pension system does not have a practical mechanism to guarantee workers' entitlements. Therefore, in order to increase the subscription rate of the retirement pension and to eliminate blind spots, it is necessary to present a more practical plan to strengthen the right to receive retirement benefits prior to the mandatory introduction of the retirement pension. Although compulsory retirement pension system has the effect of expanding the introduction of retirement pensions in small and medium-sized businesses with relatively weak financial conditions, considering that survival is a priority for companies with poor financial conditions, it may be practically impossible to accumulate retirement benefits outside the company. Therefore, in order to guarantee workers' right to receive retirement pensions, in particular, guarantee and protection of the payment of retirement benefits is a pre-emptive task.
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