Controversial pension reform passes Swiss parliament

Controversial pension reform passes Swiss parliament

The Swiss parliament has approved significant reforms to pensions and social security, most notably raising the retirement age for women to 65 years. The move is set to save the AHV system 10 billion Swiss francs over the next 10 years, but there are concerns that women will unfairly bear the brunt of the change.

Swiss pension reform has been planned for 30 years

After agreeing to a series of compromises, the National Council and Council of States voted to move forward with reforming pensions. This is one of numerous attempts to reform the public system of pensions, going back 30 years.

The reform includes raising the value-added tax in Switzerland to help pay for the pension scheme, along with raising the retirement age for women to make it equal to that of men, from 64 to 65 years. Supporters of the new law predict that, because of Switzerland's ageing population, the pension system as it is would run into trouble by 2030 if extra funding was not acquired.

AHV pension reform to severely impact women

Opponents say that the reform as it stands will disproportionately affect women as opposed to the general population. The Swiss Trade Union Federation (SGB) said that the pension earnings gap between men and women stood at 33 percent, asking: “Instead of finally improving this situation, women should now pay the price?”

To combat this inequality, the Council of States announced that the women affected by the change in the first nine years would be given an extra supplement as compensation, costing the government 7,2 billion Swiss francs in total. This would increase the pension of a low-earner by up to 20 percent.

However, the SGB countered that the current plan sees the average female retiree receive around 1.200 Swiss francs less in their pension when they stop working. They said that they have received around 300.000 signatures against the reform and are committed to holding a referendum against the change in 2022, along with the three other votes on pensions that are already in the pipeline. If the reforms survive the referendum, the new laws will come into force in 2023.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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