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Occupational Pension in Switzerland: A glimpse behind the scenes

Occupational pension in Switzerland is a central element of the country's comprehensive social security system. The system primarily aims to provide financial security to employees in their old age, in case of disability, and in the event of death. It is based on the Federal Act on Occupational Old Age, Survivors', and Invalidity Pension Plans (BVG), which forms the foundation for the second pillar of the Swiss retirement system.



Mandatory occupational pension applies to all individuals employed in Switzerland who earn a specific minimum income. Contributions to occupational pension are financed by both employers and employees. The contributions are calculated as a percentage of the insured salary and are collected up to a certain annual maximum amount. There is also the option to insure a salary above the maximum amount.


All BVG limits (as of 2023):

  • Minimum annual salary (BVG entry threshold): CHF 22,050.

  • Coordination deduction: CHF 25,725.

  • Upper limit of annual salary: CHF 88,200.

  • Maximum coordinated salary: CHF 62,475.

  • Minimum coordinated salary: CHF 3,675.


Pension funds play a central role in implementing occupational pension. These independent entities, separate from companies, manage the funds deposited and invest them to achieve a reasonable return. The investment strategies of pension funds can range from conservative to risky and often involve diversification into various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternative investments.


The retirement benefits of occupational pension are calculated based on the accumulated contributions and returns. In most cases, the old-age pension is granted as a lifelong monthly annuity. The amount of the pension depends on various factors, including the duration of contributions, the accumulated capital, and the chosen form of pension. There is also the option to receive half or the entire capital as a lump sum payout, but thorough consideration is necessary to avoid long-term disadvantages.


It is important to emphasize that occupational pension in Switzerland not only aims at financial security in old age but also provides benefits in case of disability and death. These aspects make the second pillar of retirement provision an integral part of the Swiss social security system.


The challenges for occupational pension in Switzerland are diverse. Increasing life expectancy and persistently low interest rates pose long-term financial challenges. To address these challenges, reforms and adjustments to pension legislation have been and continue to be made to ensure the sustainability of the system.


In summary, occupational pension in Switzerland not only provides a financial foundation in old age but also serves as a crucial component of social protection, contributing to maintaining the standard of living of the insured throughout their entire lifespan.

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