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Women and foreigners still earn less

Women in Switzerland are still aren't close to earning as much as men

The latest salary survey by the federal statistics office has confirmed that women and foreigners earn less on average than Swiss men.

With the same qualifications, female employees earn 21 per cent less than their male colleagues. “Women are systematically paid less,” said Carlo Malaguerra, head of the statistics office.

Foreigners can also expect their pay packets to be 15 per cent lower than for Swiss workers, with an average salary of SFr4,643 ($2,750) per month.

The results are not surprising in the light of previous surveys. The way salaries evolve remains unchanged according to Daniel Froidevaux of the statistics office. “This habit is being modified very slowly though,” he said.

People’s qualifications have become more important too. Better-trained employees are seeing their salaries increase, while unqualified workers have seen theirs stagnate.

Overall, Swiss salaries averaged SFr5,220 last year according to the survey, which polled 7,400 companies. Workers’ incomes increased 2.3 per cent compared to 1998, when the last survey was carried out.

Problem of inflation

The gain was virtually cancelled out though because of inflation. Households’ buying power did not increase.

The average salary is much higher for bank (SFr7,190) and insurance (SFr6,504) employees than for workers in the retail trade (SFr4,009) or the hospitality business (SFr3,519).

For the first time, the statistics office also looked at the use of fringe benefits by 40 major companies. These benefits are worth on average three to five per cent of a salary, reaching up to 20 per cent in some cases.

They can be for example portable telephones, payments for housing or life insurance premiums. “This is a way of keeping employees faithful to a company,” said Froidevaux.

Fringe benefits are apparently becoming more common too. But while it wishes to evaluate the extent of these benefits, the statistics office refuses to speculate whether they constitute a way of evading taxes.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR