Women in Switzerland were given the right to vote in 1971, but in the canton of Appenzell Inner Rhodes, the political franchise for women was only finally granted in 1990. If that seems somewhat archaic compared to other western countries, compare this to the statistics that claim women in Switzerland still earn around 11% less than men for doing the same job.
Earlier this year, the Federal Statistical Office reported that the gender wage gap in Switzerland still stood at 10.8% in 2020. The gap was reported as even greater with higher earners – with senior female managers earning around 17% less than their male counter parts.
Relating the above to actual salaries, the median monthly wage across Switzerland in 2020 was calculated as CHF 6’665 irrespective of gender. Figures between 2018 and 2020 show that wages of the highest paid employees rose by 11.8% and low-income earners saw a 11.6% increase. However the situation was not equal across gender:
- On average pay for women in Switzerland was reported as CHF 1’512 per month less than that of men (2018).
- 45% of the pay gap remains unexplained and therefore it was concluded could include potential gender-related pay discrimination.
Leading the need for wage gender reform is the Federal Office for Gender Equality FOGE which received the United Nations Public Service Award in 2018. The award went to Switzerland for its commitment to equal pay.
Reasons for pay gap
There are several reasons for pay inequalities between genders in Switzerland. Sometimes these are historical. The lack of affordable child care is one example, coupled with the fact that married couples who both work pay far higher tax rates as their income is added to arrive at a progressive tax rate. As a result often the woman forgoes full time work.
- Inequalities before commencing work
- Mothers in Switzerland tend to have less professional experience and many take career breaks or reduce working hours to have a family.
- Fathers are less likely to work part-time compared to female counterparts and those who do are sometimes in danger of being overlooked for promotion.
- Inequality once in the labour market
- This is reflected in different pay and job prospects for men and women.
- Typical male occupations are paid higher compared with typical female ones.
- Women in Switzerland are currently less likely to work in demanding senior roles, resulting in less company-specific experience and they also differ from male colleagues in number of hours worked.
Initiatives gaining speed
FOGE is leading the way in Switzerland to create equal pay for women and men. They have now developed a calculation tool to help employers check whether their company is compliant with equal pay requirements. The “Logib” standard analysis tool is available for employers to use for this purpose. This is anonymous and free to use. There are two versions depending on the number of employees a company has.
According to FOGE, equal pay motivates employees and increases the company’s attractiveness. When tendering for public procurement contracts companies that have acted equitably do not need to worry if they have to undergo a pay audit.
Support from parliament is also gaining speed in Switzerland, where last year, a record number of women were elected to parliament. Many of these are young and support Green Party policies. In fact the number of female MPs in the House of Representatives rose from 32% to 42% (84 out of 200 seats) during this time. It also rose in the Senate from 15% to 26% (12 out of 46 seats) giving the lobby for equal pay even more momentum and support. Switzerland is however not likely to impose strict equal pay quotas in a way that could restrict the ability of business to compete for the best talent for a given job, at least not in the current climate where it needs to compete with the rest of the world for a very limited supply.
Accurity GmbH is a professional employer organisation (PEO) based in Zurich. We are SECO licensed with a 20+ year enviable reputation as a trustworthy, reliable and transparent partner for companies of all sizes including SMEs, contractors and recruitment agents. Our core services include EOR and ANobAG for contractors and clients wishing to engage contractors. We are based in Switzerland and have excellent local knowledge and connections. Contact our team for a non-binding consultation on firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help you.