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Old 17.09.2017, 05:23
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Lower salaries for over-50s

Well, it finally happened to me, and it's happening to most of my colleagues who lose their jobs in their 50s: finding a new job means taking a 20% pay cut. The proverbial 120K suddenly becomes 100K because employers can leverage the job discrimination that is rampant here for over 50s (this is true in many countries, not just here). They know you have no, or very limited choice. Luckily, I only have a few years left to work, and stashed away a lot during my peak earning years, and wife works. But I find it distressing that now, with multiple decades of experience, Swiss employers choose to screw you just because they know they can. Any similar experiences?
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Old 17.09.2017, 08:53
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

An alternate possibility: your new employer simply doesn't believe you're worth what the last employer was paying you in today's labor market, and you failed to convince him that you were.

Just a thought.
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Old 17.09.2017, 09:27
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

Market forces have forced salaries down in most larger international fiends, who in the past, to attract and retain top talent, had to match EU/UK/US wages at much bigger exchange rates than they currently do.

I was recently talking to an agency about a contract position capped at chf560 per day, just 70 francs per hour. Yes, contract roles now do have some benefits attached which make it worth perhaps chf75 in comparative terms, but it still sounds ridiculous to me (ì won't be taking it).

What's this got to do with my age? Well, nothing really. Just that the older you are the more likely you are to have set your initial Swiss salary, and therefore expectations, when exchange rates were different. My first hourly rate was equivalent to around gbp50 when I came to CH 17 years ago. This 'stupidly low paid' contract now? Around gbp60 per hour at current rates of exchange.
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Old 17.09.2017, 09:31
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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Well, it finally happened to me, and it's happening to most of my colleagues who lose their jobs in their 50s: finding a new job means taking a 20% pay cut. The proverbial 120K suddenly becomes 100K because employers can leverage the job discrimination that is rampant here for over 50s (this is true in many countries, not just here). They know you have no, or very limited choice. Luckily, I only have a few years left to work, and stashed away a lot during my peak earning years, and wife works. But I find it distressing that now, with multiple decades of experience, Swiss employers choose to screw you just because they know they can. Any similar experiences?
As they say in German: jein (yes and no). Lost my job 2 years ago (in my fifties), got another one, less well paid. But then that is rather more due to the company being smaller and less responsibilities. So unless the jobs compare 100%, it is difficult to say if it is your age, the job, or rather the fact that companies often no longer pay higher salaries as there are enough people to choose from?

Last edited by roegner; 17.09.2017 at 11:15.
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Old 17.09.2017, 10:20
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

I guess there were extenuating circumstances. The field I had been working in for over 20 years is a very cost sensitive one, and is therefore dying out in Switzerland and moving to Asia/EU. So I had to change fields, and of course I had to learn everything about it from a very low knowledge level. Last job I was at I was there 7 years, and the CHF got a lot stronger during that time while my salary only went up. And the clock was ticking. I read that after a year out of work, your chances of getting hired again start to drop. I was at the 8 month point, so I agreed to the offer without further negotiation. And yes, it has less responsibility, no budget or people management responsibilities nor business travel, which at this stage in my career suits me quite well.
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Old 17.09.2017, 10:51
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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I guess there were extenuating circumstances. The field I had been working in for over 20 years is a very cost sensitive one, and is therefore dying out in Switzerland and moving to Asia/EU. So I had to change fields, and of course I had to learn everything about it from a very low knowledge level. Last job I was at I was there 7 years, and the CHF got a lot stronger during that time while my salary only went up. And the clock was ticking. I read that after a year out of work, your chances of getting hired again start to drop. I was at the 8 month point, so I agreed to the offer without further negotiation. And yes, it has less responsibility, no budget or people management responsibilities nor business travel, which at this stage in my career suits me quite well.
it looks more like the position is lower qualified than you having a lower salary because of your age.

anyway, it is probably more important that you found a job at all.
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Old 17.09.2017, 11:14
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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And yes, it has less responsibility, no budget or people management responsibilities nor business travel
Then that probably explains the salary difference, though I'm not disputing that the way some employees > 50 are treated in many places is shameful. Especially as these days, 50 is really no age at all AND since that often horrific treatment is set against constant calls for a higher retirement age (well that's a nice idea, but then something needs to be done about this widespread age discrimination).

That all being said, I'm glad to hear you found a job and I think that is still a success, even if it comes at a lower salary.
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Old 17.09.2017, 11:52
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

Nowadays, finding a job is already something than simply worrying about being underpaid!
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Old 17.09.2017, 12:05
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

Cheer up! We are used to always expect only higher salary since the market goes up because of inflation and your skills significantly increase. After 20-30 years you have seen everything, you mastered to the top of your skills but the truth is there is much lower demand of such qualified people. In every organisation the biggest number of employers holds low to medium positions. It is like a pyramid. Now imagine that all of the people from your generation find the job on top of a pyramid - it means a massive industry boom which did not happened.

You did not find another job matching your previous level. Don't cry over split milk. Rejoice that you have a purpose to get up every day and still not bad financial income.

For the difficulty to find a job after one year of unemployment. It must depend on a position type. For software engineer there is no such thing. My colleague quit job after 10 years to study art, then after 5 years when he finished his new education he started looking for software engineering job and found one in half a year. He proved his skills during the interview that he can hold na Architect position.
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Old 17.09.2017, 12:09
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

It is also often the case that older workers are more expensive to employ, even if all other things are equal (performance, qualifications etc.)
For example, the employer contribution to the pension fund can be age related as can be the amount of annual holiday.
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Old 17.09.2017, 13:11
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

The majority of the cuts are mainly due to the CHF appreciation (IMO) since the SNB scrapped its policy of defending the 1.2 cap. It was mentioned a couple of years back in the SNB / CHF thread and I remember there were a lot of doubters that this would happen, fast forward a couple of years and it looks like it is happening now.

CHF appreciates by around 20% leads to salaries going down 20%, next the obvious consequence of house prices. If people are taking lower salaries who is going to be buying the CHF1m+ apartments?
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Old 17.09.2017, 17:07
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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I guess there were extenuating circumstances. The field I had been working in for over 20 years is a very cost sensitive one, and is therefore dying out in Switzerland and moving to Asia/EU. So I had to change fields, and of course I had to learn everything about it from a very low knowledge level. Last job I was at I was there 7 years, and the CHF got a lot stronger during that time while my salary only went up. And the clock was ticking. I read that after a year out of work, your chances of getting hired again start to drop. I was at the 8 month point, so I agreed to the offer without further negotiation. And yes, it has less responsibility, no budget or people management responsibilities nor business travel, which at this stage in my career suits me quite well.
Well, there is your explanation.

100K CHF nowdays is worth more than what 120K CHF did 10 years ago.
This isn't the fault of the companies, the currency is way too overvalued for them to be competitive with higher salaries.
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Old 17.09.2017, 20:08
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

My wife works in recruitment and there has been a steady lowering of salaries since the GFC. Together with unemployment at 3% the expectation of companies has never been higher with this seemingly bigger pool of people to choose from, interestingly it has never been more difficult to find good candidates. This is not only for over 50s but effects them more as younger candidates have better resumes on paper. But as we all know certificates don't mean you can do the job.
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Old 17.09.2017, 20:28
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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And yes, it has less responsibility, no budget or people management responsibilities nor business travel, which at this stage in my career suits me quite well.


why would you expect a job with less responsibilities to pay the same?!

be thankful you're not a woman: you would have been paid 20% less your entire lifetime and not had the chance to build as much of a buffer...
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Old 17.09.2017, 21:19
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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Well, there is your explanation.

100K CHF nowdays is worth more than what 120K CHF did 10 years ago.
This isn't the fault of the companies, the currency is way too overvalued for them to be competitive with higher salaries.
Yes maybe if you buy imported goods from China, but to pay for thelargest items of expenditure for your life in Switzerland (rent, transport, health care) it is actually worth less now than 10 years ago.
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Old 17.09.2017, 23:28
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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My wife works in recruitment and there has been a steady lowering of salaries since the GFC. Together with unemployment at 3% the expectation of companies has never been higher with this seemingly bigger pool of people to choose from, interestingly it has never been more difficult to find good candidates. This is not only for over 50s but effects them more as younger candidates have better resumes on paper. But as we all know certificates don't mean you can do the job.
3% and it's a bigger pool of candidates? This unemployment rate cannot even fulfill the job vacancies. Why Zürich, Luzern, and other cantons are asking for more non-eu permits then?

And with all due respect, if a 50-year old guy is doing the same job and bringing the same revenue as a 20-something, something is really wrong...
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Old 18.09.2017, 00:01
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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interestingly it has never been more difficult to find good candidates.
Nope. Demands have just risen to ridiculous standards.

Also, the rest doesn't really make sense. 3% unemployment = pool is as big as it has always been. Within Switzerland anyway.

However, if you actually mean the outside-of-Switzerland pool, then I'm inclined to agree. However, brings me back to point a) - demands have simply unnecessarily risen because employers have been fooled into believing they have access to an unlimited pool of human resources and can pick and choose as much as they want.

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as younger candidates have better resumes on paper. But as we all know certificates don't mean you can do the job
Also not true, but simply imagined and a good excuse for, at times, not hiring "older" (again, 50, really???) applicants.

In reality, aside from the above seemingly unlimited supply of candidates, the only reasons for systematically not hiring "older" workers (if they indeed do not) are the structure of the pension systems and, above all, the unwillingness of employers to value experience and reward it accordingly.
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Old 18.09.2017, 11:23
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

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Well, it finally happened to me, and it's happening to most of my colleagues who lose their jobs in their 50s: finding a new job means taking a 20% pay cut. The proverbial 120K suddenly becomes 100K because employers can leverage the job discrimination that is rampant here for over 50s (this is true in many countries, not just here). They know you have no, or very limited choice. Luckily, I only have a few years left to work, and stashed away a lot during my peak earning years, and wife works. But I find it distressing that now, with multiple decades of experience, Swiss employers choose to screw you just because they know they can. Any similar experiences?
At least your job comes with the benefit of a gorgeous, young, female lunch partner. That's got to be worth something.
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Old 18.09.2017, 11:55
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

I do not doubt that there is some discrimination. From what I experienced mainly for hard financial facts rather than hipster attitude - older employees are more expensive as the retirement system is set up in a bizarre way.

If you want to get rid of that barrier could you do so legally in parliament. One of those Swiss Abstimmungen would do it... Given that the age group of 50+ is well overrepresented at the ballots is this one of the things I really don't get about Switzerland.
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Old 18.09.2017, 12:13
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Re: Lower salaries for over-50s

I think the whole pension thing is set up pretty stupidly. Why weight more in later life when it has less time to compound? Just have a flat contribution rate across all ages.
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