pensions For Members

Referendum: How would retirees in Switzerland benefit from 13th pension payout?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Referendum: How would retirees in Switzerland benefit from 13th pension payout?
The elderly is Switzerland will have more money to spend if the proposal passes on March 3rd. Image by Susanne Nicolin from Pixabay

Not all of Switzerland’s referendum issues incite such controversies as the upcoming one on the 13th pension. How would the new law impact employees and retirees — if it passes?


What is the vote about?

On March 3rd, Swiss citizens will go to the polls to weigh in on two retirement-related issues

One of the proposals, created by left-wing parties and trade unions, calls for the payment of an additional pension, of the same amount as the ‘regular’ first-pillar AHV/AVS pension received each month.

This would correspond to a monthly hike in pensions of 8.33 percent which, according to supporters, is a necessary increase to compensate for the inflation-driven higher cost of living and lower purchasing power.

The parliament and the Federal Council are urging voters to reject the proposal, arguing that such an increase in public spending would not be financially sustainable over the long term, and would eventually lead to the benefits. 

READ ALSO : What's at stake in Switzerland's March 3rd referendum?

How much is the AHV / AVS pension?

As of January 1st, 2023, the minimum first-pillar pension for individuals amounts to 1,225 francs a month, while a maximum payout is 2,450 francs — provided the retirees have worked full-time for 44 years (43 years for women).

The maximum pension for a married couple is 3,675 francs a month.

(Most retired people in Switzerland will also benefit from the income generated by the 2nd pillar pension, which is obligatory for those in fixed employment who earn at least 22,050 francs a year). 

Who would benefit most from the 13th payout?

Along with low-earners in general, women,  especially those who have not continuously worked in full-time positions for 43 years, would benefit the most, supporters say. 

Not only are their AHV / AVS pensions lower, but woman also have a much weaker 2nd pillar, so their financial needs after retirement are not covered as well as people's who receive full amounts of both pensions.

However, the ‘weak point’ of the proposal, as some point out, is that all retirees in Switzerland — even those who are well off — and not just those who really need it, will receive this 13th pay.  


What impact will it have on those still working?

The first year of the entry into force of the new legislation, in 2026, the 13th pension will entail an additional cost of around 4.1 billion francs, with this amount going up each year because the number of retirees will increase as well.

Those who propose the 13th pension have calculated that employees’ contributions would increase by 0.4 percent on average.

For someone who has a gross salary of 5,000 francs per month, for example, this represents 20 francs per month of additional deduction from the salary.

Will the voters actually accept this new measure?

Nothing is certain until the votes are counted.

However, latest surveys indicate that at least 60 percent of voters are in favour of the proposal.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also