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Switzerland could see vote on laws banning age discrimination

© Vadimgozhda |

Heidi Joos, the managing director of the organisation Avenir 50 plus, and others, plan to launch a referendum aimed at introducing laws against age discrimination in Switzerland.

Age discrimination in recruitment is common in Switzerland. Some job search websites allow filtering by age, and job adverts sometimes specify applicants be below a particular age.

The initiative aims to provide a framework for seeking legal justice in cases of age discrimination, to ban age specification in job adverts and to ban online age filters on recruitment websites.

Another problem for older workers is institutional. The amount employers must contribute to 2nd pillar contribution-based employee pensions increases with age. Workers under 35 only cost employers an additional 3.5% of salary. From 55, workers cost employers an additional 9% – workers aged 35 to 44 cost employers an additional 5% and those 45 to 54 cost an extra 7.5%. Unless older workers are prepared to take a pay cut, this makes them more expensive. Another organisation, 50 plus, has launched an initiative calling for a single contribution rate for all age groups.

An alternative would be to allow employers to be up front about this extra cost and cut salaries by an amount that makes the all-in employee cost age neutral, effectively reversing this institutional economic disincentive to take on older workers.

According 50 plus, the plight of older workers has reached breaking point. Only 14% of unemployed workers 55 or over who end up on welfare manage to get back into stable full time employment. And 31% of them never work again.

Recent figures from Federal Statistical Office show a sharp increase in those between 50 and 64 on welfare. Between 2011 and 2017 the rate rose from 2.5% to 3.2%, an increase of 28 %. Across the total population it increased by 10% over the same period. 57% of those on welfare between 50 and 64 are graduates or have professional qualifications.

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