SWITZERLAND - The Upper House of the Swiss parliament has lowered the eligibility threshold above which workers are required to join the second pillar, from 25,320 francs (15,932 euros) to 18,990.

It is estimated that 100,000 workers will join the second pillar as a result of the vote – which comes into force next year.

The vote is part of the second phase of revision to the social security law, the Bundesgesetz über die berufliche Vorsorge, or BVG, which has featured in the parliamentary agenda for some time.

The upper chamber has also decided to match the pension age of both first and second pillar pensions, raising it from 63 to 64.

A change of regulation may be needed for the implementation of this decision. The Swiss press has reported that a popular vote in May halted the raising of the pension age as well as Parliament-backed plans to cut benefits to the first-pillar pension provisions.

Annual wages to up to 75,960 francs in Switzerland must be insured through the so-called co-ordination deduction. This deduction will now amount to 22,155 francs rather than 25,320 francs, making the level of insured wages, on which contributions are to be paid, increase from 50,640 francs to 53,805 francs.

The minimum transformation clause, by which the capital of the annual pension is calculated, also sinks from 7.2% to 6.8% because of higher life expectancy.

The third phase of revision focusing on regulations on the purchase of occupation pensions is planned for 2006.