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Civil servants do not cash in despite benefits

Civil-service salaries give Finance Minister Merz food for thought

(Keystone)

The higher up the ladder a civil servant is, the greater the divide between his or her salary and that of a private-sector equivalent, according to government surveys.

The same surveys found employees received basic salaries comparable to their private counterparts but did not enjoy the same level of bonuses and paid more towards pensions.

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz commissioned the studies in response to public concern that civil servants were earning too much.

The difference was most pronounced when it came to middle- and high-ranking civil servants earning more than SFr100,000 ($76,800).

The studies revealed that the crucial difference between the value of public and private sector salaries lay in the amount paid out in bonuses and other incentives.

Unlike in the private sector, bonuses for government employees were not dependent on their success or performance on the job.

While civil servants were not cashing in when it came to the variable part of their earnings, the government offered them other benefits, which were as good as and sometimes better than perks offered by private companies.

For example, child benefit paid to civil servants was found to be above the cantonal level. Also, when civil servants reach 50, they are entitled to more holiday than employees at the firms used as a comparison.

Model employer?

The government, in its desire to be a competitive employer, is awaiting recommendations from its personnel department, which will be ready by summer 2006.

Fourteen companies were involved in the two surveys, as were three firms with close ties to the government and four cantonal administrations.

The salary details of nearly 32,000 people were examined, including 4,357 civil servants.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Finance Minister Merz commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct the survey.
Fourteen companies were involved in the two surveys, as were three firms with close ties to the government and four cantonal administrations.
The salary details of nearly 32,000 people were examined, including 4,357 civil servants.

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