Workers will have the option of playing different cards to determine their retirement age and pension return. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The Swiss government plans to incrementally increase the retirement age of women to 65 while offering incentives for all people to work longer. The CHF2.8 billion ($2.84 billion) savings measures would be accompanied by a sales tax hike and extra pension payments for hardship cases.

This content was published on July 3, 2019 - 17:19

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Alain Berset presented the latest proposalsExternal link to rescue the ailing state pension system. Two previous plans have been rejected by Swiss voters in recent years.

A central plank of the reform is to ask women to work an extra year – retiring at 65 rather than 64. The increase would come in stages of three months per year, providing the plan passes both parliamentary and voter scrutiny.

To make the change more palatable, the government proposes raising value added tax by up to 0.7% and paying CHF700 million into a hardship fund for nine years.

The reference retirement age, to be harmonized for both men and women at 65, comes with some flexibility. Both men and women would be offered financial incentives to continue working until they are 70. Workers could also choose to draw on their state pension early by retiring as young as 62.

In May, voters approved of government plans to reform the Swiss corporate tax system. Part of that package was an annual CHF2 billion injection into the state pension. However, this would still leave the pot with a CHF2.8 billion shortfall, which the new proposals plan to plug by 2030.

On Tuesday, trade unions and employers said they had reached a compromise on measures to reform the occupational pension scheme that also faces a funding shortfall.

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