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The framework for Pillar 2 is regulated by law.

Working life

Whether it's your first job or a new job: When you become an employee, your employer must insure you in a pension fund starting from a specific annual salary. With every new job, you also move to a new pension fund. Your credit balance is transferred to the new occupational benefits institution. The framework for Pillar 2 is regulated by law.

Contributions and benefits

Occupational benefits insurance forms Pillar 2 of Switzerland’s three-pillar system. It pays benefits from the date of retirement and in the case of occupational disability or death. The contributions are split between the employee and the employer.

Fundamentals and information

  • Contributions
    • The framework for Pillar 2 is regulated in the BVG (Federal Act on Occupational Retirement, Survivors' and Disability Pension Plans).
    • Employers are obligated to insure their employees in a pension fund starting from a specific annual salary. This entry threshold is determined every two years by the Federal Social Insurance Office.

    Here you will find the current amounts that are redefined every two years:

    • For every month's salary, both you and your employer pay a percentage of the salary into the pension fund.
    • This percentage of the salary is referred to as retirement credits. They are legally prescribed depending on your age. For younger people, they are lower than for older people. 

    Age woman / man       Percentage
    25 – 34                       7%

    35 – 44                      10%

    45 – 54                      15%

    55 – 64                      18%

    • Employees’ contributions are deducted directly from the salary. Contributions are divided between employers and employees. The employer contributions must equal at least the total in contributions by all employees.
    • The BVG is a legal framework laying out minimum requirements. Many employers voluntarily offer benefits and possibilities with their pension fund that are in excess of the mandatory minimum. These additional benefits are referred to as extra-mandatory. 
  • Benefits

    On disability

    • Disability pension 
    • Disabled person's child's pension 

    In case of death for the surviving dependants 

    • Widow's / widower's pension 
    • Orphan's pension 

    Benefits on retirement 

    • Lifelong pension or 
    • lump-sum payment or 
    • a combination of the two 
  • Form of benefits

    Retirement, survivors', and disability benefits are generally paid as a pension. You can also draw at least 25% of your Pillar 2 credit balance (mandatory benefits) as a lump sum.

  • Pension fund certificate

    Every year you receive a pension fund certificate. This personal certificate contains all the key information pertaining to your occupational benefits insurance:

    • annual salary
    • pensionable salary
    • benefits on retirement, disability or death
    • proportion of the retirement benefits you can draw as a lump sum
    • retirement assets
    • vested benefits
    • maximum advance withdrawal to finance owner-occupied residential property
    • possible amount of additional benefits you can purchase
    • annual overall contribution
    • annual employee contribution
  • Pension fund regulations

    Each pension fund has its own regulations. Its provisions define the level of benefits, their financing, and the possibilities the insured have in respect of retirement, purchases and residential property. You can request these regulations from your employer or HR department at any time.

Enrollment, departure and divorce

You need not take any action to enroll in the first pension fund of your working life. Your employer does this. When you change jobs, get divorced, or leave your pension fund, you should know the following.

Enrollment

  • Requirements
    • You have reached age 18.
    • You earn a salary subject to AHV that is higher than the entry threshold.

    Here you will find the current amounts that are redefined every two years:

    • You have not yet reached regular retirement age.
    • You are employed permanently or for a fixed term of more than 3 months.
    • You are not already mandatorily insured for your (other) primary occupation.
  • Change of employer
    • Ask your new employer for the payment details for his pension fund and forward these to your former pension fund; do this before you leave your old company. Your credit balance will be transferred to your new fund.
    • Your former employer notifies your pension fund about your departure. They will send you a statement showing your credit balance.
    • You remain insured with your previous pension fund against the risks of death or disability for one month after the employment relationship ends.
    • As a rule, entitlement to vested benefits begins only from the age of 25 because the savings process for Pillar 2 pensions starts only on January 1 following the year in which you reach age 24. From the age of 17 to the age of 24, the insurance covers only the risks of death and disability.
  • Divorce
    • Divorce law states that vested benefits for both marriage partners that accrued during the marriage must be divided.
    • The vested benefits to be divided are determined by the pension fund. To do this, they need to know the date of marriage and the planned date of divorce.
    • Payment is made to a pension fund or vested benefits account following issuance of a legally valid divorce decree.

Withdrawal

  • Work interruption
    • If you do not enroll in a new pension fund right away, your vested benefits will be transferred to a vested benefits account or policy.
    • You will remain insured with your previous pension fund against the risks of death or disability for one month after the employment relationship ends.
    • If you enroll in a pension fund at a later time, you will need to have your assets transferred from the vested benefits account or policy to the new occupational benefits institution.
    • If retirement is already a possibility, for every departure from a pension fund, it is worth considering drawing a retirement pension. If you do not enroll in a new pension fund, your vested benefits will be transferred to a vested benefits account. A pension cannot be drawn from this type of account. 
  • Self-employment

    When you become self-employed, you have three alternative ways of using your vested benefits:

    1. Insure yourself voluntarily with your employees' pension fund,
      professional association, or the National Substitute Pension Plan. Transfer your vested benefits to your new pension fund.
    2. Deposit the amount in a vested benefits account or vested benefits policy.
    3. Have the assets paid out as a lump sum within a year from when you started to be self-employed. 
  • Leaving Switzerland for good
    • If you move to an EU / EFTA country where you will be mandatorily insured against the risks of old age, disability or death in accordance with local statutory requirements, you can request to have only the extra-mandatory portion of your vested benefits paid out. The mandatory portion will remain in a vested benefits account or policy in Switzerland until the conditions for a payment have been met.
    • Relocating to a non-EU / EFTA country: You can have all your vested benefits paid out as a lump sum. This requires certain documentary proof. More information is available from your pension fund. 

The new myAXA pensions portal

Anyone who works for a company whose pension fund is managed by AXA can benefit from many advantages. Because the insured employees have access to the myAXA pensions portal. Thanks to this online portal, you - as an employee - can take the planning of your pension provision and the calculation of possible future scenarios into your own hands. Otherwise you have to ask your employer or your HR department for the relevant information.

The benefits of the myAXA pensions portal

  • Clarity: Employees can view all the information on their pension fund online in myAXA at any time – with simple and clear explanations.
  • Better planning for the future: In myAXA it is possible to calculate the impact on pension benefits of an advance withdrawal for the purchase of residential property or of a voluntary payment for tax optimization purposes.
  • Potential purchases: Thanks to myAXA it is possible to identify and close pension gaps.

From the end of 2017 or at the latest at the start of 2018, the insured in an AXA pension fund will benefit from the advantages of the new pensions portal on myAXA. You will receive a letter from AXA with the access data that allows you to register with myAXA with just a few clicks.

Support and frequently asked questions

  • What do I need to do when changing my employer?

    Whenever you change employer, the assets from your current pension fund must be transferred to the new occupational benefits institution. You can ask your new employer for a payment slip from its pension fund or for the exact payment instructions, which you then forward to your previous pension fund, if possible still before you withdraw.

  • What happens to my pension fund assets if I don’t find a new job?

    You will have to deposit your assets with a vested benefits institution. This leaves you with two options:

    • Open a vested benefits account with a bank of your choice, or with the National Substitute Pension Plan
    • Set up a vested benefits policy with an insurance company of your choice

    For this you will receive a form for entering the necessary account or policy information, which you then send to your former pension fund – if possible still before you leave. The pension fund then transfers your assets to the address as indicated.

  • Why has the retirement capital for regular retirement age suddenly changed compared to the amount shown on the last certificate?

    Possible causes for a difference in the amount from one year to the next include a change in your salary or working hours, or a change in the interest or conversion rate.

    The amounts shown are illustrations. They are calculated using a provisional interest rate for the whole calculation period (01.01.20XX until retirement age). As a rule, the assumed interest rate used in the calculation is disclosed publicly.

  • Are the benefits shown on the personal certificate guaranteed?

    No they are not. The pension fund recalculates the projected pension benefits annually based on the information available at the time, including the

    • annual salary
    • pensionable salary
    • coordination deduction
    • interest rates for calculating the retirement capital
    • conversion rates for calculating the pension benefits

    The actual benefits are calculated based on the regulatory provisions that apply on the precise date on which the benefits case (retirement, disability, or death) occurs.

  • I'm starting my own business in Switzerland. Is there a time limit by when I can have my vested benefits paid out?

    You can have the assets paid out as a lump sum up to one year from the date when you became self-employed.

  • I want to transfer my vested benefits to two different accounts/policies but don't yet have a new employer. Is that an option?

    Yes, that is possible. However, you may transfer your vested benefits to a maximum of two vested benefits institutions.

  • May I transfer a part of my vested benefits to the new pension fund and a part to a vested benefits account or policy when I change my job?

    No, that is basically not possible. The former pension fund must transfer the entire vested benefits to the new pension fund.

    Exception: If you are unable to transfer all of your vested benefits to the new pension fund, you may transfer the unused portion to a vested benefits account or policy.

  • I'm about to leave Switzerland and will move to an EU / EFTA country permanently. Can I have my pension fund assets paid out?

    If you will continue to be mandatorily insured for old age, disability and death in that country, you can have only the extra-mandatory portion of your benefits paid out. The statutory minimum portion must remain in Switzerland and can be used only once you reach retirement age, or in the event of disability or death.

    Having assets from the mandatory portion paid out is only possible in the following cases:

    • The vested benefits amount on withdrawal is less than your annual contribution so far.
    • If permitted by the regulations: When you take early retirement.
    • When you want to use it to finance the purchase of owner-occupied residential property.
    • When you are not covered mandatorily against the risks of old age, disability and death in the country in question and are able to present official proof to this effect from the relevant authority. 
  • I'm planning to emigrate to an EU / EFTA country and start my own business there before I retire. Can I have the mandatory portion of my pension fund assets paid out?

    This is not an option if the EU or EFTA country requires you to have occupational benefits insurance. However, if you are not subject to mandatory benefits insurance, you can have the assets paid out as a lump sum.

  • How can I use or liquidate a vested benefits account or policy?

    If you are a member of a pension fund, you are required, by law, to transfer all your vested benefits to your account with that fund. Doing so can increase your pension benefits. If you want to liquidate your accounts or surrender your policies and transfer the amounts to your pension fund, you will need to submit a written request plus a payment slip from your pension fund to the occupational benefits institution. The earliest you can have your vested benefits balance paid out is five years before you reach ordinary retirement age and the latest is five years thereafter.

  • Can I purchase benefits in the amount that was deducted from my pension fund following divorce?

    Yes, that's possible.

  • Does the death lump sum count as part of a deceased person's estate?

    No. The death lump sum is not part of the estate. It is reserved exclusively for the beneficiaries as defined in the regulations. Entitlement to the death lump sum continues even if the beneficiary relinquishes the estate.

  • Who will receive benefits from my pension fund in the event of my death?

    The law and your pension fund regulations define who is entitled to benefits in the event of death. Benefits are paid as a pension and/or a lump sum, primarily to the surviving spouse, life partner or children, depending on the regulations.

    In the absence of a spouse, life partner or children, the statutory order of beneficiaries lists other persons in the following order:

    1. Natural persons who received substantial support from the deceased, or the person with whom the deceased lived in a life partnership throughout the five years up to the time of death or who bears financial responsibility for one or more children from the relationship
    2. Children who do not fulfill the conditions set out under 1., parents and siblings
    3. Other statutory heirs

    The pension fund can include further provisions in its regulations for cases that do not fall under the statutory order of beneficiaries. We recommend that you inform yourself about what provisions apply to your situation.

  • Are your spouse / life partner and children provided for in the event of the insured person’s death?

    In the event of an insured person's death, the law and the pension fund's provisions may provide the following benefits:

    • Spouse's pension – also available to a registered partner 
    • Life partner's pension 
    • Death lump sum 
    • Orphan's pensions 

    The actual amount in benefits and the terms for entitlement vary from one pension fund to another. We recommend that you refer to your personal certificate (also referred to as a pension certificate or pension fund certificate), read your pension fund regulations carefully, or ask your advisor.

    If you live in a life partnership (are not married or in a registered partnership), you will need to find out if a surviving partner's pension is even covered. If this is not the case or if the coverage is inadequate, we recommend that you provide for your partner by purchasing a private whole life policy.

  • What benefits will I receive from my pension fund if I become disabled?

    Your pension fund will pay you a disability pension. The amount is defined in the pension fund regulations.

    If your children are eligible for support, you are entitled by law (BVG) to a disabled person's child's pension of 20% of your disability pension. Eligibility applies to children

    • up to their 18th birthday
    • up to their 25th birthday if they are in school or training,
    • until gainfully employed, but at the most up to their 25th birthday, and if their disability level is 70% or more.

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