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Swiss parliament backs pension overhaul but critics seek referendum

During a debate in the House of Representatives
Parliament has discussed reforms of the occupational pension scheme numerous times over the past 15 months. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Parliament has approved an overhaul of the occupational pension scheme - a key element of Switzerland's social security system.

However, voters are likely to have the final say on the issue as political parties on the left, possibly backed by the main farmer’s organisation, have announced they will challenge the reform via a referendum.

The legal amendment approved by parliament is intended to secure the level of the occupational pension, strengthen financing and improve the protection of part-time employees, notably women.

At the centre of the reform is a reduction in pensions, which will be balanced by various compensatory measures. The minimum conversion rate at which saved capital is converted into a pension is to be reduced from 6.8% to 6%. This would mean that 12% of the pension would be lost at a stroke.


Occupational pensions, set up by employers, have been under pressure due to rising life expectancy and low interest rates.

+ Switzerland’s three-pillar pension system explained

It took both chambers of parliament over 90 hours of discussions to agree a final comprise.  

Interior Minister Alain Berset told parliament this week that a reform of the system is necessary even if the issue will most likely go to a nationwide vote.

Last September voters came out in favour of raising the retirement age for women as part of an amendment of the state pension scheme

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR