Several years ago, Chantal Huber decided to open her own hair salon. But among women she’s one of the few. Only 1 in 10 Swiss women are self-employed, as a survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office reveals. This figure has scarcely changed since the 1990s. Women who decide to work for themselves face a lot of questions and issues, from raising the start-up capital and initial financing to planning for their retirement.
Why is this statistic important?
Retirement provision is a particularly important issue for women, because they retire earlier and live longer than men. Self-employment adds another level of complexity, for men and women alike. For example, the decision whether to take start-up capital from pillar 2 or pillar 3: if you do so, this will open up a pension gap at retirement age. Even if financing is obtained in other ways, pension gaps can often still arise. For example, self-employed persons who don’t set up a limited liability company (GmbH) or a public limited company (AG) are not obliged to join a pension fund.
The figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that women often don’t do so. Three out of ten self-employed women do not have a pension fund and still pay regularly into the non-committed pillar 3. The self-employed have various options at their disposal to make provision for their retirement. They can voluntarily join a pension fund or make use of the savings options provided by the “big pillar 3.” Self-employed persons without an occupational pension fund can pay in up to 20 percent of their income into pillar 3a every year, and they also receive full tax relief on this amount. Once their retirement provision is arranged, the benefits of self-employment can be enjoyed, as Chantal Huber confirms: “It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding.”
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