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The principle of «equal pay for work of equal value» has been enshrined in the Federal Constitution since 1981. In addition the Gender Equality Act (GEA) prohibiting any form of discrimination between women and men in employment relationships in Switzerland and was adopted on 24 March 1995 by the Federal Assembly. It came into force on 1 July 1996. A recent amendment to the act was published in 2020 and is valid through to 2032.

However, according to recent studies and data collected from organisations including the Swiss Federal Statistical Office and the Federal Office for Gender Equality, women in Switzerland still earn on average significantly less  than men. The good news is this is a widely talked about subject and a dynamic topic!

Reports on gender discrimination

The recently revised Federal equal pay regulations act comprises three basic steps:

  1. Analysis of equal pay in line with a recognised methods.
  2. Verification of the analysis by authorised and specially trained independent bodies.
  3. Communication of the result to the employees.

Some key findings from the reports 

  • The overall gender pay gap: reports indicate that women in Switzerland earn approximately 18% less than their male counterparts. The worst offenders are those roles in upper and middle management.
  • Sector-specific disparities: the wage gap varies across different sectors and industries
    • Finance and technology sectors: these traditionally male-dominated sectors often exhibit wider gender pay gaps, with men typically earning more than women in similar positions.
    • Healthcare and education sectors: In sectors like healthcare and education, where there are higher proportions of female employees, the gender pay gap may be narrower compared to male-dominated fields.
    • Service and retail sectors: Pay disparities in service-based industries like retail and hospitality can also vary, depending on factors like job level, experience, and company policies.
  • Progress and challenges: while there have been efforts to address the gender pay gap through legislation and awareness campaigns, the gap remains a persistent challenge in Switzerland.

However, there are ongoing efforts and developments in Switzerland to address the gender pay gap. These include:

  • Pay transparency measures: Switzerland has consistently been updating measures to increase pay transparency, and the latest amendment requires companies to disclose salary information to address gender pay disparities.  The latest update of the Federal Act on Gender Equality, requires companies with 100 employees or more to conduct regular pay analyses.
  • Workplace equality initiatives: Companies and organisations in Switzerland are increasingly focusing on promoting gender equality in the workplace, including equal pay for equal work, other discrimination through sexual harassment and employees rights.
  • Policy changes: Despite the speed of progress, the Swiss government is continuously working on policies and regulations to close the gender pay gap and ensure fair wages for both men and women.

Other ongoing measures taken

  • Various organisations and advocacy groups continue to raise awareness about a host of topics including pay discrimination and employers are increasingly being encouraged to be more transparent about their salary structures to help identify and address any discrepancies in pay between men and women.
  • The latest amendment of the Federal Act on Gender Equality (151.1) covers  such areas as:
    • Equality at work
      • prohibition of discrimination
      • discrimination through sexual harassment
      • employees rights
    • Special provision for employment relationships
      • protection against dismissal
    • Equal pay analysis and audit
      • obligation to conduct equal pay
      • method of equal pay analysis
      • information for employees

In addition to the above efforts to address gender pay disparities, some key initiatives in Switzerland related to gender pay include:

  • Equal Pay Act: Switzerland has an Equal Pay Act in place, which aims to ensure equal pay for equal work between men and women.
  • Gender Pay Reporting: Some Swiss companies are required to report on their gender pay gap figures as part of efforts to increase transparency and accountability.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreements: Trade unions in Switzerland negotiate collective bargaining agreements that can include provisions related to gender pay equality.
  • Campaigns and Awareness Programs: Various campaigns and awareness programs have been launched in Switzerland to raise awareness about gender pay disparities and promote gender equality in the workplace.

While these initiatives are now in place and other organisations continue to question the status quo, there are still challenges remaining in achieving full gender pay equality in Switzerland. And ongoing efforts are needed to address systemic issues and promote fair pay practices.

Summary
The Federal Government in Switzerland has long recognised that there is pay discrimination in Switzerland between genders and has acted by publishing official acts to combat these injustices. Progress is slow however, and despite other organisations lobbying on behalf of workers, on average, female workers still earn 18% less than their male colleagues. The latest amendment to the Gender Equality Act was made in 2020 and is valid until 2032. Time will tell what the next steps will be, but with gender discrimination (in all its forms including pay) being such a hot topic, one can expect to see more initiatives and possible revisions long before 2032!

 

Accurity is SECO licensed, providing payroll (PEO), employment (EOR) and HR management services in Switzerland for companies of all sizes from multi national corporations to SME’s. We also advise on flexible and remote work and rates of pay. Please feel free to contact our team to find out more about the services we offer companies, contract staff and recruiters, and see how we can help you!