The Swiss Gender Equality Act of 1996 (GEA) aims to prevent discrimination based on gender in the work space. On 14 December 2018, the Swiss Federal Assembly passed a revision requiring employers to conduct a periodical wage equality analysis. The revised GEA and the new corresponding Ordinance on Wage Equality Analysis will enter into force on 1 July 2020.
Since its enactment in 1981, the constitutional principle of wage equality requires equal pay for equal work within a company - regardless of an employee's gender. The GEA further elaborates on this principle and attempts to establish real equality between women and men. However, currently there is still a gender wage disparity in Switzerland which cannot be justified on objective grounds. With measures focused on the employer side, the recently passed amendments to the GEA represent a renewed effort to close the gender wage gap.
Applicability and Entry into Force
Entry into Force and First Analysis
The revised GEA and the new corresponding Ordinance on Wage Equality Analysis will enter into force on 1 July 2020. The validity of the new provisions is limited to 12 years and will expire in 2032.
Under the new law, employers are obliged to conduct a first wage equality analysis by 30 June 2021 and its audit needs to be completed by the end of June 2022 at the latest. Moreover, by the end of June 2023, the respective employees have to be informed in writing about the results of the analysis.
Subsequently, every four years a new wage equality analysis needs to be conducted. However, once the analysis shows that there is no gender wage disparity within a company, no further wage equality analysis will be required.
The requirement to conduct an internal wage equality analysis applies to private and public employers that employ at least 100 employees at the start of the respective calendar year (Art. 13a para. 1 revised GEA).
Notably, this threshold takes into account the actual number of people employed as opposed to the equivalent of full-time positions. Apprentices are not counted towards the threshold amount.
Neither the revised GEA nor the corresponding Ordinance on Wage Equality Analysis define the term employer. However, within a group of companies, it is assumed that each legal entity which formally engages employees is considered to be an employer and thus obliged to conduct the wage equality analysis if the minimum threshold is met.