In 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of Max Beeler, a man who claimed there was gender discrimination regarding pension payments to widows and widowers in Switzerland. This week, the government formalised changes removing the inequality of treatment of bereaved men and women.
Currently, women receive a widower’s pension for life on the passing of their husband, while men get one only until their children reach the age of 18.
In the future, both men and women will receive the same pensions only until their youngest child is 25. In effect men will get an extra 7 years of payments while women will in some cases lose decades of payments. Exceptions will be made for those receiving some other forms of welfare.
The change comes at an opportune time for Switzerland’s federal government. Federal government spending is rising faster than revenue so savings are badly needed to balance the books. The budget for 2024 is CHF 6.7 billion in the red.
When the changes to widows’ and widowers’ pensions are fully deployed total annual savings of CHF 810 million are expected, with CHF 160 million coming off federal government books.