1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Swiss vote to boost pension payments

March 3, 2024

The change would see Swiss retirees get a 13th monthly payment, similar to workers' end-of-year bonuses in some European countries. The move will address the cost of living in one of the world's most expensive countries.

Union leaders and left-wing politicians cheering after the vote projection was announced
Union leaders and left-wing politicians campaigned for the proposalImage: Peter Schneider/KEYSTONE/picture alliance

Switzerland has voted in favor of increasing the retirement pension to include a 13th monthly payment in a referendum on Sunday.

Provisional official results published by the government showed over 58% of voters backed the measure, with less than 42% against.

The initiative also won in a majority of Switzerland's 26 cantons, giving it the double majority needed to pass.

Pensioners' group AVIVO said the result was "a historic day for retirees."

What's behind the move?

The "Better living in retirement" proposal was put forward by trade unions to combat the rising cost of living.

They called for pensioners to receive an additional monthly payment each year, similar to the 13th month bonus that many employees receive in Switzerland and other European countries.

Retirement pension payments are currently capped at 2,450 Swiss francs (€2,550; $2,770) per month for individuals and 3,675 francs per month for married couples.

But these payments do not necessarily go far in a country that is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive in the world. In November, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Zurich as the most expensive city in the world, tied with Singapore.

"There is a purchasing power crisis," Pierre-Yves Maillard, head of the Swiss Trade Union Federation and part of the "yes" campaign, told the AFP news agency ahead of the vote.

Swiss activists holding a banner calling for an increase in pension payments
Activists in Bern welcomed the news that the 'yes' vote was project to winImage: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

What did the Swiss government say?

While the proposal was supported by unions and left-leaning parties, it was fiercely opposed by right-wing and centrist parties, business lobbies and the Swiss government itself.

The government has said the proposed hike would cost more than four billion Swiss francs a year and would require it to raise taxes. It also noted that the payment would go to all retirees regardless of their financial situation.

"If the initiative passes, a lot of retirees will receive a 13th social security payment even though they don't really need it," the government warned.

The pension boost is set to take effect from 2026.

zc/nm (Reuters, AFP)