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30. Employee benefits

The employee benefit plans of the Group are based on legal requirements in the respective countries. Beyond these regulatory requirements, the Group provides meals, housing, education and access to medical care according to the local operating group’s policy.

The Group’s contribution to defined contribution plans amounted to EUR 0.7 million in 2019 (2018: EUR 0.6 million).

The pension plan for employees in Switzerland is a defined benefit plan and covers the risks of age, death and disability. Financing occurs by means of employer and employee contributions, defined in the pension fund rules in terms of an age-related sliding scale of percentages of salary, as well as returns from the investments made by the pension fund. The pension fund guarantees the vested benefit amount as confirmed annually to members, as regulated by Swiss law. Interests may be added to member balances at the discretion of the Board of Trustees. At retirement date, members have the right to take their retirement benefit as a lump sum or as an annuity. No plan amendment, curtailment or settlement has occurred during the year.

Changes in the present value of the defined benefit obligation
in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Defined benefit obligation at 1 January   3 801   2 983
Current service costs   307   277
Interest costs   35   22
Contribution by plan participants   97   90
Actuarial losses/(gains)   196   53
Benefits paid/transferred   –2   244
Currency effects   159   132
31 December   4 593   3 801
Plans wholly or partly funded   4 593   3 801
Plans wholly unfunded    
Movement in the fair value of the plan assets
in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Opening fair value of plan assets   2 380   1 772
Interest income   23   14
Return on plan assets excluding interest income   –54   15
Contributions by the employers   177   163
Contributions by plan participants   97   90
Benefits paid/transferred   –2   244
Currency effects   96   82
31 December   2 717   2 380
in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Present value of obligations   4 593   3 801
Fair value of plan assets   2 717   2 380
Net liability   1 876   1 421
Changes in net liability
in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Opening net liability   1 421   1 211
Pension cost recognized in profit or loss   319   285
Pension cost recognized in other comprehensive income   250   38
Employer contributions   –177   –163
Currency effects   63   50
Recognized in balance sheet   1 876   1 421

Amounts recognized in profit or loss in respect of the defined benefit plan are as follows:

in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Current service costs   307   277
Net interest costs   12   8
Recognized in profit or loss   319   285

Amounts recognized in other comprehensive income in respect of the defined benefit plan are as follows:

in thousand EUR   2019   2018
Return of plan assets excluding interest income   –54   15
Changes in financial assumptions   –336   146
Experience adjustments   140   –199
Recognized in other comprehensive income   –250   –38

The assets are invested in a multi-employer plan and are therefore mixed. Thus, it is not possible to disclose the asset allocation as requested in IAS 19.

Principal actuarial assumptions used
    2019   2018
Expected employer contributions   178 861   164 521
Discount rates   0.25%   0.90%
Expected salary increases   1.00%   1.00%
Expected long-term increase of pensions   0.00%   0.00%
Sensitivity to changes in the principal assumptions
in thousand EUR   DBO   Effect
Actuarial assumption 31 December 2019   4 593    
Discount rate +0.5%   4 179   –9.00%
Discount rate –0.5%   5 070   10.40%
Salary increase rate +0.5%   4 638   1.00%
Salary increase rate –0.5%   4 550   –0.90%
Accounting policies

The Group has both defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans.

The obligation and costs of pension benefits are determined using the projected unit credit method. The projected unit credit method considers each period of service as giving rise to an additional unit of benefit entitlement and measures each unit separately to build up the final obligation. Past service costs, which comprise plan amendments and curtailments, as well as gains or losses on the settlement of pension benefits are recognized immediately when they occur. Remeasurements, which comprise actuarial gains and losses on the pension obligation, the return on plan assets and changes in the effect of the asset ceiling excluding amounts included in net interest, are recognized directly in other comprehensive income and are not reclassified to profit or loss in subsequent periods. The pension obligation is measured at the present value of estimated future cash flows using a discount rate that is determined by reference to the interest rate on government bonds where the currency and terms of the government bonds are consistent with the currency and estimated terms of the defined benefit obligation.

Payments to defined contribution pension plans are charged as an expense to the statement of comprehensive income as they fall due.