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Studies say over 95% of Swiss firms respect equal pay law

Flying the flag at an equal pay demonstration in Zurich, 2016. © Keystone / Walter Bieri

The first large-scale studies since a new pay equality law was introduced last year have shown that a huge majority of firms do not discriminate in paying men and women.

This content was published on August 16, 2021 - 15:22
NZZ am Sonntag/dos

The analyses, reported by the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, come a year after new regulations – as part of the federal law on equality – made it mandatory for companies with over 100 employees to provide figures about their pay practices.

The first, carried out by the University of St Gallen’s Competence Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), found that 97% of businesses complied with the law, which forbids unjustified salary discrepancies for doing the same job.

The other study, by the Comp-on firm, found that 95% of companies were in compliance with the law.

The studies analysed the data of 120,000 and 150,000 employees, respectively.

That said, the studies also found that overall salary differences persist: on average, men take home pay packets around 20% higher than women, with the differences being justified by “objective factors like experience, career history, or education”, the NZZ writes.

The figures – which tally with official federal statistics on salaries – are also explained by the higher number of men in leadership positions, the newspaper writes. Other analysts said the high number of women in part-time positions, and the tendency of some firms to increase salaries automatically with age could explain the structural differences.

The figures provided in the studies however do show differences compared to the official appraisal of the Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE): while this latter reckons that 45% of the overall pay gap between men and women is “unexplainable”, i.e. discriminatory, the Comp-on analysis puts this discriminatory factor at less than half of that.

Contacted by the NZZ am Sonntag, a spokesman for the FOGE said simply that while the new analyses showed a “positive trend”, it wasn’t clear if they were “representative of the whole economy” – especially since they don’t include firms with fewer than 100 employees.

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