Questions & answers

General

Am I free to choose my pension fund?

No, there is no right of choice. You have to be insured with the pension fund affiliated to your employer.

Who is my contact partner for questions concerning the occupational pension scheme?

You can turn directly to the responsible contact person at the Novartis Pension Funds.

Do I have to register with Novartis Pension Funds?

No, your employer registers you for admission to the Novartis Pension Funds. Once we have received this registration, the Novartis Pension Funds will send you a Welcome Package, which provides you with further information.

Are there any reasons why I might not be insured with the Novartis Pension Funds?

You will not be admitted to the Novartis Pension Funds if you

  • have a fixed-term employment contract of not more than three months with an affiliated company (subject to Art. 1k Occupational Pension Ordinance BVV2);
  • you are only employed part-time with an affiliated company and are already covered by compulsory insurance for a main occupation or pursue your main occupation as a self-employed person;
  • are at least 70 percent incapacitated within the meaning of the disability insurance act;
  • have reached the age of 65 years.
Admission

Who is admitted to the Novartis Pension Funds?

Employees with a Swiss employment contract must be insured with the Novartis Pension Funds provided they have 

  • a contract for an indefinite period or
  • a fixed-term contract of more than three months and
  • an annual base salary of at least CHF 21,060.00

From the age of 17, you are insured against the financial consequences of disability or death. At the age of 25, the insurance of retirement benefits starts along with the accumulation of the pension capital required for this.

Who is admitted to Novartis Pension Fund 2?

Employees who are members of Novartis Pension Fund 1 and whose annual base salary (including incentive and allowances) exceeds the current threshold for entry of CHF 150,000 are admitted to Novartis Pension Fund 2.

How are the Novartis Pension Funds 1 and 2 structured?

Link to defined contributions plan overview page.

What benefits are insured?

Novartis Pension Funds insure the typical benefits of old age, death and disability.

Do I have to transfer my vested benefits?

Yes. According to regulations, when you join the pension fund, you are required to transfer both the vested benefits from your previous pension scheme and any assets in pillar 2 vested benefits institutions to us. The purpose of these transfers is to provide the most comprehensive protection of benefits possible and to avoid the disbursement of lower benefits in the event of a claim.As a rule, the vested benefits are not automatically transferred. If they have not yet been transferred to the Novartis Pension Funds, please arrange for this to be done as soon as possible:

Address for payment 
Pensionskasse Novartis 1
Postfach4002 Basel
IBAN: CH14 0023 0230 1021 4390 1
Purpose of transfer: surname, first name and personnel number
Reason for transfer: vested benefits

For transfers through the post office or by means of a payment order (post office or bank) conventional red paying-in slips must be used. If need be, you can obtain preprinted paying-in slips directly from Novartis Pension Funds or Human Resources.

What is the pension insurance statement? When do I receive it?

This personal statement informs you about your present insurance situation. You receive it 

  • for the first time in the month when you join;
  • then as soon as your existing vested benefits have been received by the Novartis Pension Funds;
  • annually, as per January 1st;
  • in addition, whenever your insurance situation changes as a result of voluntary extra contributions, early withdrawal for home ownership, repayment of sum withdrawn early or as a result of divorce or a court annulment of a registered partnership.

Information on the personal statement can be found via this link.

Do I have to undergo a medical check-up when I join?

No, the Novartis Pension Funds do not demand a check-up.

Purchase

Should I buy into the Novartis Pension Funds?

If you wish to increase the benefits on retirement, you may make voluntary extra contributions. Benefits in the case of disability and death are dependent on your salary.

What do I have to pay attention to when I pay in extra contributions?

Before you can pay in extra contributions, you must make sure that all pension fund assets from previous Swiss employers have been transferred to the Novartis Pension Funds. For legal reasons, we also need an application form, which you have to complete (once) before your first voluntary extra contribution and to submit to the Novartis Pension Funds by letter post or as a pdf-file.

Which legal restrictions have to be observed?

You can find the limits on voluntary extra contribution applicable on the reporting date in your personal pension insurance statement. For insurants who moved from abroad, special legal limits on voluntary extra contribution are applicable during the first 5 years of residence in Switzerland – the Novartis Pension Funds consultants shall be happy to inform you of these before your first purchase. Please note that capital withdrawals (advances for financing home ownership, cash disbursements on leaving or the lump sum on retirement) are blocked for three years after voluntary extra contributions.

When should I make a voluntary extra contribution?

Voluntary extra contributions can basically be made at any time. You can issue payment instructions via your external bank or post office account. Alternatively, you have the option of commissioning the Novartis Pension Funds to deduct the desired amount from your staff current account. After the contribution has been paid, you will receive a written confirmation.

Can I use my pillar 3 savings to buy into pillar 2?

Yes, you can, unless you are already fully bought in. However, if you have concluded a tied personal savings agreement with a life insurance company and not with a bank, you should inquire about the conditions of an early termination of your pillar 3a policy, because it may result in substantial losses on repurchase.

Can voluntary extra contributions be repaid on request?

No. These extra contributions are part of the tied pension savings and can therefore not be repaid.

Can voluntary extra contributions be made regardless of any payment into pillar 3?

Yes. You can pay into pillars 2 and 3 at the same time independently of one another. In principle, you can claim voluntary extra contributions and pillar 3 savings contributions on tax.

What interest is applied to voluntary extra contributions?

The same interest rate is applied as for the interest on the other pension assets.

What do I do if I want to make a voluntary extra contribution?

The Novartis Pension Funds have to clarify various legal matters before they are allowed to accept voluntary extra contributions. Therefore, before making a payment, please return the completed and signed document Form for voluntary extra contributions.

Is there a minimum/maximum amount that I may pay in?

Anyone who pays in a maximum possible extra contribution is then bought into the full benefits laid down in the regulations. You may request the simulation from your Novartis Pension Funds contact person

There is no minimum amount that you have to pay in.

What does the purchase of early retirement mean?

To fund early retirement at the age of 60, you have the option of paying additional voluntary extra contributions into the pension fund. These contributions increase the early retirement benefits on the appropriate actuarial scale. The regulations of Novartis Pension Fund 1 define the maximum purchase allotments.

What happens after I have made a voluntary extra contribution?

The payment received is credited to your pension assets. The Novartis Pension Funds will send you updated pension insurance data and a certificate for the tax authorities.

Is there a blocking period for capital disbursements and early withdrawals after a voluntary extra contribution?

Yes. It must be borne in mind that the increased insurance benefits achieved by the purchase cannot be taken in the form of a lump sum until three years have passed since payment. If a lump sum payment or an early withdrawal is claimed before the three years have elapsed, you cannot expect the purchase in question to be tax deductible.

Can I claim a voluntary extra contribution on my tax?

In principle yes. The Novartis Pension Funds send you a certificate of the extra contributions you have paid in for submission to the tax authorities. However, if a lump sum payment or a withdrawal is claimed before the three years after purchase have elapsed, you cannot expect the purchase in question to be tax deductible.

What do I have to bear in mind if I have vested benefits?

If assets are available from vested benefits accounts or policies which, by way of exception, do not have to be transferred to the Novartis Pension Funds, the maximum possible voluntary extra contributions have to be reduced accordingly.

Are there special regulations for persons formerly self-employed?

In the case of persons who were formerly self-employed, any assets from the tied pillar 3a are counted to a certain extent. The maximum possible voluntary extra contributions are reduced accordingly.

Is a purchase possible if an early withdrawal has been made for home ownership?

After an early withdrawal for home ownership purposes, voluntary extra contributions are only possible once this withdrawn sum has been repaid. If the repayment of the sum withdrawn early is no longer permitted for reasons of age, voluntary extra contributions may be made provided they do not, together with the early withdrawal, exceed the maximum benefits as laid down in the regulations.

What has to be borne in mind on moving to Switzerland from abroad?

If you are moving here from abroad and this is the first time you are being insured in a pension scheme in Switzerland, voluntary extra contributions in the first five years after joining the Novartis Pension Funds are limited to 20% of the insured earnings per annum.

Can I pay in voluntary extra contributions again after a disbursement resulting from divorce or court annulment of a registered partnership?

Yes. A repurchase is possible within the limits of the vested benefits transferred.

Contribution scale

Can I change my decision to set the contributions scale to Standard Plus or Standard Minus?

Yes, your decision can be changed again. In principle, this change is possible once a month. Please submit a new form with the corresponding change in your selection.

How long am I tied to the decision to change the contribution scale?

For one month at least.

What disadvantages do I face as a result of a change? Is the adjustment associated with costs?

There are no disadvantages. The adjustment is free of charge.

I am insured in Pension Fund (PF) 1 and Pension Fund (PF) 2. Can I change the contributions scale for just one of the two pension funds?

Yes, you can choose individually and mark the desired PF in the form.

Where can I get the form for requesting a change of contributions scale?

The form can be found on the website of the Novartis Pension Funds.

What is the advantage of changing my contributions scale to "Standard Plus"?

You increase your assets for retirement and your purchase potential (voluntary personal purchase).

Divorce

My divorce is imminent. What do I do?

In order for the Novartis Pension Funds to calculate the divisible vested benefits, the date of your marriage is required as well as either the anticipated date of your divorce, or a corresponding reference day for dividing the benefits. 

Leaving

Under which conditions am I entitled to a cash disbursement of my vested benefits?

You are entitled to a cash disbursement:

  • If you take up self-employment as your main occupation (requirement: confirmation of the AHV/AVS Compensation Office)
  • If you leave Switzerland permanently (requirement: confirmation of deregistration from the municipality where you live)
  • If the vested benefits amount to less than your annual contribution.

In the event of cash disbursement, the written (and notarized) approval of the spouse / registered partner is necessary.

I am leaving, but do not yet have a new job. Can I leave my portable sum in the Novartis Pension Funds for the time being?

No. You are required to open a vested benefits account or policy in your name with a bank or insurance and forward the details for the transfer of your vested benefits to the Novartis Pension Funds. If you don't take any action, we are required to transfer your vested benefits to the Substitute Occupational Benefits Institute in Zurich (fees and expenses of the institution will be charged to you).

Substitute Occupational Benefits Institute, Zurich
Tel. 041 799 75 75
www.chaeis.net

How do the bilateral agreements impact my options for cash disbursement as a cross-border commuter?

The bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU Member States, as well as Iceland and Norway (EFTA), concern only the legal minimum provision of occupational benefits. Moreover, a transitional period of 5 years is stipulated, which expired on 31 May 2007. After this, i.e. for persons leaving after 31 May 2007, restrictions apply to the cash disbursement of the mandatory part of the vested benefits according to the occupational pensions act (OPA), if those persons leave to a European community state where mandatory insurance likewise exists for the pension risks of old age, disability and death.The persons primarily affected are thus cross-border commuters and also all employees who leave the company before reaching the age of 60, relocate abroad and would like to take their vested benefits in cash. Only the vested benefits above and beyond the mandatory OPA retirement assets can be paid out in cash, while the mandatory OPA part has to be transferred to a vested benefits account with a bank fund or used to set up a vested benefits policy with an insurer.Pension payments and lump sum payments in the event of a claim and early withdrawals for home ownership are not affected.

I will terminate my employment contract between the earliest possible retirement age as defined in the regulations and the age of 65. Do I have to take retirement benefits?

If you continue paid employment or are registered as unemployed, you can request a portable sum instead of the retirement benefits.

How large is my portable sum?

Your portable sum is calculated on the basis of your insurance situation. This is:

  • the portable sum stipulated in the regulations or
  • the portable sum defined in Article 17 of the Federal Act on the Vesting of Occupational Old Age, Survivors’ and Invalidity Benefits (VBA) or
  • the retirement assets as defined in Article 15 of the Federal Act on Occupational Old Age, Survivors’ and Invalidity Pension Provision; (OPA).

A comparative calculation is performed to determine which of the above named amounts is the highest. This will then be paid out. In this regard, please refer to your last personal insurance statement.

Who informs the Novartis Pension Funds of the address for payment?

As the insured person who is leaving, you will inform the Novartis Pension Funds of how your vested benefits are to be used. The appropriate forms will be sent to you by your Novartis Pension Fund consultant.

May my vested benefits be paid out in cash?

Cash payment may be requested if:

  • you are leaving Switzerland permanently (enclose written confirmation of deregistration from the Swiss municipality where you last lived; note that restrictions apply if you are relocating to live in a EU Member State, Iceland, Norway or the Principality of Liechtenstein) or
  • you are taking up self-employment and are no longer subject to mandatory occupational pension requirements (a current confirmation from the AHV/AVS Compensation Office must be sent to the Novartis Pension Funds) or
  • the vested benefits are smaller than the annual contribution.

What has to be borne in mind with the cash disbursement of vested benefits if I am not residing or staying in Switzerland according to tax laws?

If the vested benefits are paid out to persons not residing or staying in Switzerland according to tax laws, the Novartis Pension Funds have to deduct withholding tax and pass the amount on to the tax authorities.

Will I be informed when my vested benefits have been transferred?

Yes, as soon as the payment has been executed, you will receive the definitive vested benefits statement from the Novartis Pension Funds.

Retirement

What is the regular retirement age as defined in the regulations?

65 years for men and women.

From which age is an early retirement possible?

From the age of 60. The retirement assets at the time of early retirement are converted to a lifelong retirement pension using the corresponding (reduced) conversion rate.

May I resign before the age of 60 and still retire with a pension from the age of 60?

No. The earliest age you may receive a pension is when the contract is terminated at the age of 60.

Could I take the lump sum instead of a retirement pension in Novartis Pension Fund 1?

It is possible to take a lump sum amounting to no more than 50% of the retirement pension – with a lifelong reduction of the retirement pension (married insured persons require the officially notarized approval of the spouse / registered partner).

Can I take a pension instead of the lump sum payment from Novartis Pension Fund 2?

No. Novartis Pension Fund 2 provides cover exclusively for lump sum payments (in the event of retirement, death and disability).

How are the savings paid out upon retirement?

You can choose between the following payment options:

  • 100% lump sum payment at the time of the first pension payment
  • 100% conversion into a fixed-term bridging pension until you reach the statutory (AHV/AVS) age of retirement
  • Combination of the other two options.

Please note that the bridging pension must not exceed the amount of the maximum state pension. Any savings that exceed this mark are paid out with the retirement lump sum. If the savings are not sufficient for the maximum bridging pension, additional retirement assets may be withdrawn, but this then reduces the lifelong retirement pension.

Will the Novartis Pension Funds provide a calculation of my retirement benefits for me in advance?

A calculation of the likely retirement benefits can be requested from your contact person with the Novartis Pension Funds.

By when do I have to inform the Novartis Pension Funds of my decision?

It is sufficient if you inform us of your decision in writing up to 3 months before retirement.

Am I entitled to a bridging pension if I take early retirement?

You may opt to receive the assets available at the time of your retirement as a one-off lump sum or as a temporary bridging pension until you reach the statutory (AHV/AVS) retirement age and thus optimally accommodate your needs.

How large is the bridging pension?

The level of the bridging pension depends on retirement age, gender and the level of the assets accumulated up to the time of early retirement. The bridging pension must not exceed the maximum single state pension (AHV/AVS) applicable in each case.

What happens to any assets that exceeds the mark?

Any part of the assets not used will be paid out as a lump sum.

When will my pension be transferred to my account?

The pension will be transferred twelve times a year, on the 25th of each month. Any lump sum due will be paid out within the first 30 days of the entitlement to the benefit taking effect.

Can I have my pension transferred to more than one account?

No. Novartis Pension Fund 1 transfers your retirement pension every month to your personal staff current account with Novartis AG. Here you can then make your own transfer arrangements.

May my pension be transferred abroad?

Yes. But you would be well advised to select a well-known and reputable banking institution. For the transfer we need the exact address of the bank with account number, the corresponding IBAN and the BIC code.

My son has interrupted his education and is now at recruit school, after which he will resume his education. Will the child pension continue to be paid as before?

No, the child pension is suspended for the time spent in recruit school. As soon as your son then starts his studies, send us the relevant confirmation and we will reimburse you retrospectively for the cancelled child pension benefits.

Disability

Who is regarded as disabled?

A disabled person is anyone who has become wholly or partly unable to work for what is likely to be a permanent or prolonged period because of physical or mental ill-health resulting from an illness, ailment or accident or who is disabled within the meaning of the disability insurance. Anyone who is no longer or only partially able to perform the job he did before the onset of incapacitation or another job that might be reasonably expected of him and who suffers a loss of income as a result is considered to be wholly or partly disabled. Fitness for work that is diminished by less than 40% is not deemed a disability and thus does not warrant entitlement to disability benefits. If the degree of disability is 70% or more, the insured person is considered wholly disabled. The disability, the degree of disability and the time of its occurrence are determined by the pension fund on the basis of a medical assessment at the request of the insured person or the company and periodically reviewed where applicable. The degree of disability corresponds at least to the degree of disability determined by the disability insurance.

How large is my disability benefit from Novartis Pension Fund 1?

In the case of full disability, the disability pension is 60% of the insured salary (risk plan) at the start of incapacitation.

How large is my disability benefit from Novartis Pension Fund 2?

Only a lump sum is paid out of Novartis Pension Fund 2. This is paid out once with the transfer of the first disability pension from Novartis Pension Fund 1. In the case of full disability, the disability lump sum corresponds to the retirement lump sum available at the time when the incapacitation started, but not less than 400% of the insured salary (risk plan).

Death

What does my spouse get if I die?

The surviving spouse/registered partner receives 60% of the insured or current retirement or disability pension (provided the marriage has lasted at least 5 years or the surviving partner has one or more dependent children. If neither of these conditions is met, the surviving partner receives a one-off lump sum equivalent to three years of the spouse’s pension). If the person receiving the pension dies before the age of 65, a lump sum on death also falls due.

What does my domestic partner get if I die?

All the following conditions have to be met for entitlement to the domestic partner’s pension:

  • The insured person and his/her domestic partner are not married.
  • The two domestic partners are not related.
  • The partners can proof that they have lived in the same household and mutually supported each other for the last five years before death, or they have one or more children with each other
  • The support agreement was filed with the pension fund during the deceased partner’s lifetime.
  • In the case of pension recipients, the conditions were met at the time of the first pension payment.
  • The conditions set forth in the regulations for the spouse’s pension are met (by analogy).

I am 58, widowed, and intend to marry again. Will I now lose my spouse’s pension?

Yes, because you are not yet 60. In this case, you will receive a one-off settlement equivalent to three annual pensions. If you were to marry after the age of 60, you would continue to receive the spouse’s pension unchanged for the rest of your life.

Do I lose my widow’s pension from the Novartis Pension Fund with the start of my state pension payments?

No, widow’s and widower’s pensions are basically lifelong pensions. However, the entitlement to a supplement to the widow’s or widower’s pension as defined in the regulations only applies if and as long as you are not receiving (cannot receive) any pension or disability benefits from the state.

I am a pensioner, married to a partner from abroad and have no children. Does my spouse receive a spouse’s pension after my death, even if she returns to her native country and is also very much younger than I am?

If a married insured person dies before or after retirement, then his/her surviving spouse is entitled to a spouse’s pension provided that, on the death of the spouse, he/she

a) has one or more dependent children or
b) is older than 35 and the marriage has lasted at least 5 years.

Pensions are paid into the internal staff current account with Novartis, from where the payment can then be transferred to any private account (in Switzerland or abroad) as instructed.

Misc

How is the Board of Trustees constituted?

The Board of Trustees of our pension fund consists of equally seven employee representatives and seven employer representatives. Each employee representative is elected for a four-year term of office.

What happens to my pension funds following a salary increase?

The new salary is adjusted to the pay increase as from the current month. Contributions and benefits are re-calculated accordingly.