Hire in Switzerland

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Last updated at June 16, 2022
beautiful scenery in the country of switzerland

Currency

Swiss Franc (CHF)

Capital

Bern

Time Zone

GMT+1

Key Country Facts

Introduction

Switzerland is a federated country in central Europe with a population of 8.5 million. The 26 ‘cantons’ of Switzerland are the member states of the Swiss Confederation. Switzerland’s administrative capital is Bern, while Lausanne serves as its judicial centre. As a consequence of its remarkable stability and carefully guarded neutrality, Switzerland—Geneva, in particular—has been selected as headquarters for a wide array of governmental and non-governmental organizations, including many associated with the United Nations (UN). Banking and finance are key industries. The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails with tourism being an important pillar of the Swiss economy.

Area

Switzerland is a small landlocked, mountainous country located in central Europe, with an area of 41,285 square kilometers. Switzerland extends across the north and south side of the Alps in west-central Europe, bordered to the west by France, to the north by Germany, to the east by Austria and Liechtenstein, and to the south by Italy.

Climate

Switzerland is located within a temperate climatic zone. The lowland regions in the north and east have more continental influenced conditions with colder winters and hotter summers, and the south-eastern areas have longer and warmer, Mediterranean-like summers. At high altitude in the mountainous regions of the Alps, the weather can change quickly.

Culture

Swiss culture is distinguished by its diversity, heavily influenced by major European cultures of its neighboring nations. The Swiss are known for their reserved, extremely organized nature and strict adherence to a set of unwritten social rules for daily life. Respect for privacy and discretion are key values in social interaction. The Swiss have always maintained and nurtured their wide range of traditional customs.

Religion

Switzerland is a Christian country. Around two-thirds of the population are either Roman Catholic or Protestant (Reformed-Evangelical).

Official Language

Switzerland is a multilingual country with four official national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh, depending on the region. High German and Swiss German is spoken by about 63% of the population, French by about 23%, and Italian by about 8%. Romansh is spoken by less than 1% of the total population.

Switzerland HR at a Glance

Employment Law

The main sources of employment law in Switzerland are the Federal Code of Obligations, (setting out standards on matters including employment contracts and termination of employment), the Federal Labour Act (containing standards for many conditions of employment, including hours of work and overtime pay), and the terms agreed in the contract of employment. In some industries, mandatory collective bargaining agreements will apply.

Employment Contract

In Switzerland the recognized types of employment contract are:

  • An employment contract for an unlimited period: this is the most common type of employment contract, in which the parties do not determine a maximum term (it is open-ended).

  • A fixed-term contract: the duration of the contract relationship is determined by the parties involved.

  • An apprenticeship contract / Vocational Education and Training (VET) (only valid in written form).

Swiss law does not stipulate a specific form for a contract of employment, but a written contract is recommended, and a collective labour agreement (CLA) may stipulate the need for a written contract.

Where an employment contract is concluded for an indefinite term or for more than 1 month, the employer must, within 1 month following the commencement of the contract, inform the employee in writing of the main contractual provisions:

  • the names of the contracting parties,

  • the starting date,

  • the position,

  • the salary and possible additional salary elements, and

  • the weekly working hours.

In addition to the above provisions, an employment contract must specify at least:

  • the work to be performed and the remuneration to be paid in return,

  • the probation period (which cannot exceed 3 months),

  • the period of notice.

The essential provisions of an existing employment contract may not be amended except by agreement between the parties.

Contract Terms

Switzerland has various types of employment contracts:

  • There are individual employment contracts, under which an employee undertakes to work for an employer in return for payment. These involve certain rights and obligations: the employee must perform the relevant work, while the employer must pay the employee’s remuneration and social security contributions, grant the employee paid holidays, etc.

  • Another common type of employment contract is a collective labour agreement (CLA). Based on negotiations between unions and employers, the CLA contains provisions on the conclusion, content and termination of individual employment contracts, the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, the scope of the agreement and how it is to be overseen. In addition, the authorities may draw up a standard employment contract for particular occupations.

Probation Period / Trial Period

During the probationary period, either party can terminate the contract at any time, subject to 7 days’ notice. Different arrangements may be made by means of a written agreement, a standard contract or a collective labour agreement, but the probationary period must not exceed 3 months (statutory limit).

Working Hours

Under Swiss law, the maximum weekly working hours for industrial workers, office staff, technicians and other employees, are set at 45 hours. The limit for all other workers is 50 hours per week. Most employees work between 40 and 42 working hours per week.

The maximum weekly working time may be temporarily extended by regulation for a maximum of four hours, provided that it does not exceed the annual average. Such an extension may be granted by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) for certain categories of companies or employees or for certain establishments, provided that and for as long as compelling reasons justify it.

The employer must allow the employee one day off per week, generally Sunday or, where circumstances do not permit this, a full weekday instead. In special circumstances, the employer may allow the employee several days off together or two half-days instead of one full day, provided the employee consents to this.

Top managers are not subject to a specific maximum work duration.

Overtime

Overtime in excess of the maximum weekly working time of 45 or 50 hours is governed by the provisions of the Employment Act. Overtime is defined as hours worked above the agreed working hours but not exceeding the statutory maximum weekly working hours and must be compensated with a premium of 25% of the normal hourly wage (but for office workers only for overtime work exceeding 60 hours per calendar year); alternatively, if the employee agrees, it can be compensated with time off of the same duration.

As long as overtime is not over the maximum legal duration, different arrangements may be agreed in writing between employers and employees, providing for other compensation (e.g. at 100% instead of at 125%), or even no additional compensation at all, when the agreed salary arguably compensates the overtime and overtime is not much more than what could be expected when signing the contract. Employees with family responsibilities may only be used with their consent to overtime work.

The daily limit for overtime is generally 2 hours, and the annual limit is 170 hours for workers whose regular workweek is 45 hours long and 140 hours for those whose regular workweek is 50 hours.

The maximum weekly working time may exceptionally be exceeded:

  • because of the urgency of work or extraordinary work order;

  • for inventory-taking, clearing and liquidation work;

  • to prevent or remedy failures, unless the employer can be expected otherwise resolve such matters.

Health and Safety in the Workplace

In Switzerland there are two main laws governing Occupational Health and Safety (OSH):

  • The Labour Law covers work hours, health protection, workplace building standards and the protection of personal integrity.

  • The Accident Insurance Law covers the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases which are caused almost entirely by work.

The cantonal labour inspectorates, SUVA (main accident insurance authority) and the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) enforce the laws. A coordination commission (EKAS) oversees and finances the inspection system for accident prevention. OSH services must be consulted by companies with higher accident risks and more than 10 employees.

In Switzerland, so-called “industrial companies” (i.e., factories manufacturing and processing goods and enterprises using machines and/or automatic processes) must have a written health and safety policy which is subject to review by the Cantonal Labour Authority.

Bonus

Swiss law contains no provision defining and addressing specifically bonuses. According to its characteristics, a bonus will be considered either as a gratification or as part of the salary of the employee. The distinction between gratification and salary is crucial in Swiss employment law as the rules governing gratifications are much more flexible than the ones applicable to the payment of the salary.

The payment of a gratification depends, at least partially, on the goodwill of the employer. If the payment of a gratification has not been expressly agreed between the employer and the employee, it is entirely optional. If the payment of a gratification has been agreed, it is mandatory, but the employer enjoys a certain freedom in fixing its amount.

Swiss Courts rely on a number of principles established by case law when it comes to legally defining a bonus. According to the Swiss Supreme Court, in the absence of an explicit agreement, the payment of a “gratification” becomes mandatory if it has been paid by the employer for three consecutive years, unless the employer made an express reserve by a declaration addressed to the employee. However, even if the employer expressed a reservation regarding the payment of the “gratification”, it remains mandatory if such reservation may be considered as a simple formula not reflecting the agreement between the parties.

Working contracts frequently stipulate that the payment of the bonus will depend on the achievement of certain objectives by the employee. When the achievement of such objectives is easily measurable, courts tend to consider that the bonus becomes part of the salary. On the contrary, Courts are more likely to qualify the bonus as a gratification when the objectives set out to the employee are vague, or when the employer has a large discretion in determining whether such objectives have been fulfilled by the employee or not.

Termination

Indefinite contracts may be terminated by either the employer or the employee, and the employment relationship may be ended without providing reason or cause, provided that the period of notice is observed (‘Kündigungsfreiheit’).

Termination of indefinite-duration contracts is possible for any reason. However, a dismissal must not be wrongful or unlawful. Certain reasons cannot serve as a fair basis for a termination, to include dismissals on grounds of individual characteristics, complaints made by the employee regarding their working conditions or their agreement not being respected, trade-union membership, in the context of mass redundancies by the employer if the consultation process is not observed, etc.), and a fair process must be followed in any case.

The employer may not terminate the employment relationship during the following periods, and any notice given during these periods is void:

  • while the other party is performing Swiss compulsory military service, and during the four weeks preceding and following the service if the service lasts for more than 11 days; or

  • while the employee, through no fault of his own, is (partially) prevented from working due to illness or accident, for up to 30 days in the first year of service, 90 days between the second and fifth years of service, or 180 days thereafter; or

  • during the pregnancy of an employee, and for 16 weeks following the birth.

Unfair Dismissal / Remedies

In case of unfair dismissal, the notice remains valid, but the party abusively giving notice may be obliged by the court to pay an indemnity of up to six months’ salary.

Collective Redundancies / Mass layoff rules

The statutory provisions regarding mass dismissals apply where the employer – within a time period of 30 days – gives notice for reasons unrelated to any particular employee and affecting:

  • at least ten employees at a business normally employing between 21 and 99 employees; or

  • at least 10% of the employees at a business normally employing between 100 and 300 employees; or

  • at least 30 employees at a business normally employing more than 300 employees.

The provisions governing mass redundancies do not apply in the event that business operations have ceased by court order or mass redundancies have occurred due to bankruptcy or a composition agreement with assignment of assets.

Prior to giving notice, the employer must consult the employee’s representative body or the employees, and at the same time notify the cantonal labour office in writing of the planned mass dismissal. These bodies have consultation rights only. Neither the employees nor the cantonal office are able to block a mass dismissal. Notices given over a longer period but based on the same operational decision must be added together.

If the company usually employs at least 250 employees and intends to terminate at least 30 employees within 30 days for reasons that are unrelated to an individual employee, the employer is obliged to enter into social-plan negotiations either with the employee associations that are party to the collective employment contract, or with the organisation representing the employees. An arbitral tribunal will establish a social plan by way of an arbitral award if such negotiations fail.

Notice Period

During the probationary period, either party can terminate the contract at any time, subject to 7 days’ notice.

After the end of the probationary period, an employment contract may be terminated with effect from the end of any month, subject to:

  • 1 month’s notice in the first year of service,

  • 2 months’ notice from the second to the ninth year of service inclusive and

  • 3 months’ notice thereafter.

The notice period may vary depending on the written individual or collective employment contract. However, the notice period may be reduced to less than one month only by collective employment contract and only for the first year of service. The notice period must be the same for both parties.

Notice of termination may be communicated verbally or by other means. For evidentiary purposes, it is strongly recommended that notice be issued in writing.

No notice is required for terminations for very serious misconduct and both the employer and employee may terminate the employment relationship with immediate effect at any time for specific severe grounds. The requirements for termination for cause are high. There must be a severe breach of contract and – except for very serious cases (e.g. theft) – a clear warning must be given, which is then ignored by the other party. The notice must be issued within two to three days of the party becoming aware of the serious breach allowing termination for cause.

Redundancy / Severance Pay

Employees are entitled to a severance payment if they are over 50 years old and with 20 or more years’ service. If there is no contractual severance payment, an amount equal to between two and eight months’ salary will be awarded by the court. However, the employer’s contributions to the employee’s pension fund over the entire period of service may be deducted from the severance payment. As a result, mandatory severance payments are rare.

Post-Termination Restraints / Restrictive Covenants

Under Swiss law, non-competition clauses are allowed, but as these are likely to have an adverse effect on the employee’s economic freedom, they are subject to a number of limitations. The non-competition restriction has to be agreed upon in writing.

The prohibition must be appropriately restricted with regard to place, time and scope so that it does not unfairly compromise the employee’s future economic activity. In any case, a non-competition clause which would compel the employee to change his professional activity altogether should be deemed null and void, as it would be considered contrary to public order.

  • A post-termination restriction on competition is only valid and enforceable if it is limited to a specific activity, a reasonable geographic area, and a reasonable period of time (typically no more than 1 year, if based on the knowledge of the employer’s clientele, and no more than 3 years, if based on knowledge of manufacturing and commercial secrets).

  • In addition, a non-competition restriction is only enforceable in those cases where the employee has had access to the employer’s customers or to manufacturing or business secrets during the term of the employment, and the use of such knowledge could significantly damage the employer.

  • The restriction does not apply if the employer terminates the employment relationship without the employee having given him good cause to do so, or if the employee terminates it for good cause attributable to the employer.

  • Where an employee infringing the restriction is liable to pay a contractual penalty, the employee may exempt themselves from the prohibition by paying the penalty, but liability for any further damage remains. Only where expressly agreed upon in writing, the employer may insist that the employee continue to observe the non-competition restriction in addition to seeking the agreed contractual penalty and any further damages.

A non-competition clause, although common in the practice, is not required to be paired with financial compensation, as such consideration is not a prerequisite to the validity of that clause under Swiss law.

Customer non-solicits – Are permissible (with similar restrictions to non-competes).

Employee non-solicits – Are permissible (with similar restrictions to non-competes).

Timesheets

Each employer has a legal obligation to document its employees’ working hours (Art. 46 of the Employment Law (LTr) and Article 73 of Order 1 on the Employment Law). Companies must therefore be able to document the daily and weekly working hours of their employees, including compensatory work and overtime. The employer must also calculate the worker’s days off, whether weekly or compensatory, along with breaks of half an hour or longer.

The breakdown of hours worked by employees must be retained by the company for a period of five years. In the event of infringement of this rule, several penalties are possible, ranging from a warning to a fine. In the most extreme cases of infringements of employment law, namely when employees’ lives or health are at risk, the law even provides for closing the company down.

Exceptions:

  • Certain professions and businesses are excluded from the provisions on working hours and time off. These include, for example, the staff of international organizations or agricultural companies.

  • Provisions relating to the recording of working hours do not apply to employees in “a high management position” (people with significant decision-making power or the ability to strongly influence decisions of major importance to the company).

  • The recording of working hours is completely abolished for employees earning a salary subject to AVS of more than CHF 120,000 (including bonuses) and enjoying flexibility in their working hours. This complete removal must be agreed within the context of a collective bargaining agreement (for the company or the sector) and must form the subject of a written agreement by each employee.

A partial or simplified recording, with only the total daily working hours, is possible if one of these requirements is fulfilled:

  • a collective agreement between the employer and the workers’ representatives (in-house or external); or

  • in the absence of such representatives, the agreement of the majority of employees; or

  • in companies with fewer than 50 employees, an individual agreement in writing with the employees in question.

Trade Unions / Collective Agreements

Trade unions are prevalent in certain sectors. Industry-level collective bargaining agreements are common. Trade-union arbitrators often act as conciliators when there is a collective labour dispute.

Approximately one in four workers in Switzerland is a member of a trade union or similar association. Most trade unions and professional organizations belong to one of the two umbrella associations, the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB/USS) and Travail.Suisse. The level of union fees varies substantially, depending on members’ occupations and incomes.

In addition, there are various national, cantonal and municipal organizations for the protection of workers’ rights, such as the cantonal labour inspectorates. In companies with 50 or more employees, workers are entitled to elect one or more worker representatives to exercise workers’ participation rights.

Fixed Term Contracts

  • There is no minimum or maximum term for a fixed-term employment contract.

  • A fixed-term contract ends without notice on the date agreed at the outset.

  • A fixed-term employment relationship tacitly extended beyond the agreed duration is deemed to be an open-ended employment relationship.

Tax and Social Security

Personal Income Tax

Income taxes are levied at three different levels: at the federal level (which is the same all over Switzerland), at the cantonal level (which is the same within a certain canton and is based on the canton’s own tax law and tax rates), and at the municipal level (municipalities follow the cantonal tax law but are entitled to set their own communal tax rate within certain parameters). Income tax rates are progressive at the federal level and in most of the cantons. Some cantons have recently introduced flat rate taxation.

The federal income tax rates range from 0.77% (single taxpayers) / 1% (married taxpayers) to a maximum rate of 11.5% (married taxpayers). At the cantonal level, each canton has its own basis of taxation and tax rates, which vary considerably across Switzerland. In addition to cantonal taxes, communes also levy taxes as do some municipalities and churches. In 2019, the maximum marginal tax rates (including federal income tax) varied from as low as 22.42% to the highest rates in some large cities at 41.50% (Lausanne) or 48.04% (Geneva).

Federal Income tax table for 2021

Taxable Income (CHF) Rate (% on excess)
Up to 28,299 0.0
28,300 – 50,900 1.0
50,901 – 58,400 2.0
58,401 – 75,300 3.0
75,301 – 90,300 4.0
90,301 – 103,400 5.0
103,401 – 114,700 6.0
114,701 – 124,200 7.0
124,201 – 131,700 8.0
131,701 – 137,300 9.0
137,301 – 141,200 10.0
141,201 – 143,100 11.0
143,101 – 145,000 12.0
145,001 – 895,900 13.0
Over 895,900 11.5

 

Social Security

Social security contributions deducted at source by employers in Switzerland are generally lower than in the majority of European countries. Net pay is therefore often higher in Switzerland than in other European countries. However, it is important to remember that the cost of living in Switzerland is also higher than in the rest of Europe. Overall, social security deductions amount to about 16% of gross pay.

All social security taxes (except for the medical insurance) are the employer’s responsibility. The following Swiss social security contributions (as of January 2021) are payable:

INSERT TABLE CONTENT

Insurance Employer Contribution (%) Employee Contribution (%) Cap (CHF)
Old age, Survivors’ and Disability insurance 5.3 5.3 No cap
Unemployment Insurance 1.1 1.1 148,200
Supplementary Unemployment Insurance 0.5 0.5 Above 148,200
Family Compensation Fund 1.0 – 3.0 0.0 No cap
Occupational Accident Insurance 0.17 – 13.50 0.0 148,200
Non-occupational Accident Insurance 0.0 1.0 – 4.0 148,200
Occupational Pension Scheme Depending on pension plan, employer specific Depending on pension plan, employer specific
Medical Insurance Depending on coverage, private insurance

*The above rates serve as a broad guideline. Actual rates charged will differ.

Employees

Salary Payment

Salaries in Switzerland are among the highest in the world but the cost of living in Switzerland is also higher than in the rest of Europe. Salaries in Switzerland are paid once a month and payment is usually made by bank transfer.

Most employers in Switzerland pay their employees’ annual salary in 13 instalments; in December they receive, in effect, two months’ salary although sometimes half is received in June or July, and half in November or December. It should be noted, however, that a 13th month’s salary is not a bonus but is, in effect, a deferred payment. When a 13th month’s salary is paid, it will be stated in the employment contract.

Payslip

According to employment law, the employer is required to provide the employee with a written salary payslip for every salary payment that includes detailed information on gross and net salary, deductions and surcharges. Payslips may be distributed by mail, or email (in observance with data security standards).

In addition, all employers must provide their employees with a salary statement, which must include all the remuneration paid. Salary statements are normally sent out at the beginning of the year. Salary statements are generally intended for employees. However, several cantons have a salary reporting requirement, whereby employers must submit salary statements directly to the cantonal tax administration.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per year, of which at least two weeks must be consecutive. Employees under the age of 20 are entitled to five weeks’ paid vacation and to four weeks over 20 . Where an employee has not yet completed one year’s service, their holiday entitlement is fixed pro rata.

The employer determines the timing of the holidays taking into account the employees’ preferred dates to the extent they are compatible with the organization’s business needs.

Carry Over Rules

An employer cannot pay workers in lieu of granting them time to take annual leave, and unused leave generally cannot be carried over to the following year.

Sick Leave

All persons residing or gainfully employed in Switzerland are entitled to sickness benefits. Employers are not required by law to contribute, but some collective agreements require the employer to share employees’ membership fees.

Employees who are unable to work due to illness generally need to submit a medical certificate as of the third day off work.

Swiss law requires employers to continue paying employees their full wages during illness for a certain period in proportion to increasing seniority: the minimum duration is three weeks during the first year of service, thereafter wages are to be granted for appropriately longer periods depending on the duration of the employment relationship and the particular circumstances.

Case law of each Canton has determined how these “appropriately longer periods” are to be interpreted (the so-called “Bernese scale”, elaborated by the superior court of Canton Berne):

  • during the first year of employment: 3 weeks of full salary

  • second year: 1 month of full salary

  • 3 to 4 years: 2 months of full salary

  • 5 to 9 years: 3 months of full salary

  • 10 to 14 years: 4 months of full salary

  • 15 to 19 years: 5 months of full salary

  • 20 to 25 years: 6 months of full salary

Other agreements can be reached, but they must be specified in writing for a particular employee (e.g. in their employment contract), in the standard employment contract, or in a collective employment agreement. Consequently, most employers subscribe to an insurance for a daily allowance to be able to pay their employees 80% during prolonged absences due to illness. Wage continuation applies for the duration of the employee’s inability to work, but no longer than 720 days within 900 consecutive days.

Compassionate & Bereavement Leave

Time off is granted for the below events, however, the amount of time is not specified by law. The employee should check relevant employment regulations to find out what rules apply in the company they work. Typically, time off granted is between one and three days. There is no obligation to make up for lost working time.

Reasons listed in the law:

  • Accident

  • Legal obligations (e.g. military service)

  • Public office

Additional reasons:

  • Marriage

  • Death of a close relative

  • Moving home, etc.

Other Rights for Leave of Absence

Volunteer Work Leave

  • Employees under 30 years of age are entitled to one week of leave without pay per year week for the purpose of carrying out volunteer work for a social or cultural organization. The employee has no salary entitlement during such leave, but an individual agreement or collective employment contract may award more favorable provisions to the employee.

Also, employers must provide leave of absence to employees for the performance of their compulsory military duties.

Maternity & Parental Leave

Maternity Leave

  • Employees are entitled to maternity leave for a minimum of 14 weeks after the birth of a child, which is to be taken as one single period. Interruptions are not possible.

  • Under Switzerland’s mandatory loss¬ of ¬earnings insurance program, a female employee who has worked at least five out of the nine months before birth, is entitled to receive 80% of her regular pay as a daily allowance subject to a maximum 196 Swiss francs per day.

  • If the employee does not qualify for this program, she is entitled to take leave under the sick leave provisions of the Code of Obligations.

  • There are no specific provisions for maternity leave before the birth of a child, but pregnant employees can take sick leave during this time if they cannot work.

  • The employer may not reduce the holiday entitlement of a female employee who is prevented from working due to pregnancy for up to two months or has received maternity benefits.

  • A woman is not allowed to return to work for the first eight weeks after the birth of a child.

During a worker’s pregnancy, an employer:

  • must ensure her job does not threaten her health, providing other work if necessary;

  • must allow her to take unpaid leave if she desires;

  • may not require her to work overtime;

  • may not allow her to work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. after the eighth week prior to birth.

Employers may not terminate pregnant workers or new mothers for the first 16 weeks after childbirth.

Breastfeeding Break

During the first year of the life of the child, the time used for breastfeeding is counted as working time and remunerated for 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the number of hours worked a day. This time can be taken off at once or divided according to the individual needs of the child.

Paternity Leave

Any employee who becomes a father can, within the first six months after the child’s birth, take two weeks off (10 working days). These two weeks can be taken either consecutively or in the form of individual days off.

During the paternity leave, the father has no salary claim against his employer but a claim for a daily allowance equal to 80% of his daily salary, capped at up to 196 Swiss francs daily, against the governmental social insurance. The father must be employed at the time of the birth, covered by the old age and survivor’s insurance scheme during the past nine months, and employed for at least five months of that period.

Some companies have recently introduced more generous parental policies, offering the same extended benefits to all parents, regardless of gender, natural, adoptive and single parents.

Adoption leave

There is not yet an explicit statutory federal entitlement. Currently, Adoption leave is subject to the involved parties’ agreement or to the collective employment agreements. If nothing is regulated, the right to take a few days off for adoption can be based on Art. 329 paragraph three of the Code of Obligations. Some cantons have implemented gender neutral adoption allowances for all working parents, available to only one of the adoptive parents.

Childcare Leave

Employers must grant employees up to 3 days of leave to care for a sick child on presentation of a medical certificate stating the same by the employee.

Public Holidays

Switzerland’s statutory public holidays are as follows: New Year’s Day (1 January), Ascension Day, Swiss National Day (1 August) and Christmas Day (25 December). All other public holidays (Easter, Whitsun, Corpus Christi, etc.) are decided on a cantonal basis in each member state of the Swiss Confederation, with each canton being able to decide whether or not to grant a holiday on these days. Generally, 9 public holidays are granted (depending on the canton).

If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will not be moved to a weekday.

Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to a 50 percent premium in addition to their regular rate of pay. Employers may only select employees who consent to work on holidays.

Benefits to the Employee in Switzerland

Statutory Benefits

The Swiss social security system comprises various forms of social insurance, which aim to protect both people living and working in Switzerland and their dependents. It is organized federally, and social security responsibilities are divided between federal and cantonal authorities. All residents are compulsorily covered.

The concept of the 3-pillar system providing for the contingencies of death, disability and old age is part of the Swiss constitution:

  • First pillar: State social security (Federal Law on Retirement and Survivors’ Benefits – AHV/IV)

  • Second pillar: Mandatory occupational pensions or employee benefit plans (BVG)

  • Third pillar: Individual savings and insurance arrangements (personal pension).

In the Swiss multi-pillar retirement system, second pillar mandatory occupational pensions complement the first pillar universal state pension. It is expected that combined, these two pillars will provide a benefit of at least 60 percent of final salary. A third pillar consists of various voluntary tax-exempt saving vehicles, e.g. life-insurance policy, savings plans or top-up insurance policies.

The Swiss social security system consists of five components:

  • old-age and disability pension (AHV);

  • protection against the consequences of illness and accidents (UVG);

  • income compensation allowances for military, civilian or civil defence services;

  • maternity and unemployment insurance (ALV);

  • family allowances (FAK).

There is no medical cover under the Swiss Social Security system. However, participation in health insurance is compulsory for all persons resident in Switzerland according to the Health Insurance Act (private cover).

Child Allowance

In Switzerland, parents receive a monthly child (or family) allowance (Kinderzulage, allocations familiales), which depends on the number and age of children. Child allowance is paid by the employer and varies from canton to canton. The majority of cantons pay a fixed allowance for each child, while some cantons pay an increased allowance for the third and subsequent children. The allowance is usually paid up to a child’s 16th birthday or until the age of between 18 and 25 when they remain in full-time education or occupational training. The allowance is usually paid in the monthly salary payment. Around ten cantons also pay a birth allowance.

Other Benefits

Typically, employees in senior roles are offered supplementary benefit packages, which typically may include:

  • private pension plan

  • enhanced sickness allowance

  • occupational accident insurance

  • business travel insurance

  • additional annual leave

  • stock options

  • corporate bonus program

  • company car

Visas and Foreign Workers

General Information

Residence Permits / Work Permits

  • EU/EFTA nationals enjoy priority in the event of authorization to access the Swiss labour market:

  • Citizens of EU/EFTA member states do not require a residence permit to take up employment with a company in Switzerland for a period of up to three months per calendar year.

  • Gainful employment lasting longer than three months per calendar year is subject to issuance of a work permit. Work permits are issued upon presentation of proof of employment (employment contract). Work permits are valid for the whole of Switzerland and entitle the holder to change jobs and occupations. The period of validity of work permits depends on the duration of employment.

  • For employment lasting between three months and one year, workers are entitled to a short stay permit (L EU/EFTA), with the period of validity matching the duration of the employment contract.

  • For employment lasting for one year, several years or for an unlimited duration, workers will be issued a residence/work permit (B EU/EFTA), which remains valid for a period of five years.

Non-EU/EFTA citizens

Non-EU/EFTA citizens need a job offer to be in place before they can apply for a Swiss work visa. If a third-country national has been offered a job in Switzerland, the prospective employer must submit an application for residence permit to the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities. There are no separate work permits and residence permits in Switzerland. Instead, a residence permit will be issued which gives permission to work.

If the application is accepted, it will be forwarded to the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) for approval. The FOM will then notify the parties and the cantonal authorities of its decision, but this decision does not constitute authorisation to enter Switzerland.

If a third-country national requires a visa, the cantonal migration authorities will send a visa clearance certificate via e-mail to the Swiss diplomatic/consular mission in the person’s home country for them to obtain the visa there.

While the employer applies for the Swiss residence permit, the foreign national has to apply for a Swiss work visa (also known as a long-stay or a national visa) from their home country. Most non-EU/EFTA nationals need a long-stay (national) visa to enter Switzerland which can be applied for at their country’s Swiss embassy/consulate.

Within 14 days at the latest after arrival and before taking up employment, the foreign national will need to register at the Residents’ Registry Office through the local cantonal migration offices in the place where they are living. They then get their Swiss residence permit and are allowed to live and work in Switzerland.

The following requirements apply to employment of third-country nationals:

  • Persons are admitted when it is in the general economic interest.

  • Authorization is only granted if established quotas have not been used up.

  • Third-country nationals may only be hired if no one with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland or in an EU/EFTA member state.

  • Only managers, specialists and other qualified workers will be admitted. “Qualified workers” are primarily the holders of higher education qualifications (i.e. from a university or university of applied sciences) who also have specific technical expertise and several years of professional experience. Integration criteria will also be taken into account when issuing residence permits: professional and social adaptability, language skills and age.

  • Salary and working conditions must also be equivalent to those that apply to Swiss inhabitants.

Visa

When applying for a Switzerland work visa, the foreign national has to make an appointment at the Swiss representation (embassy/consulate) in their country. The application must be submitted in person and a non-refundable visa fee to be paid. The documents need to be submitted in triplicate, and include:

  • Three completed and signed long-stay visa application forms in either German, French, Italian, Spanish or English. These can be downloaded online.

  • Valid passport/travel document with at least two blank pages, issued within the past 10 years, and be valid a minimum of 3 months.

  • Four identical passport-size pictures. They must be recent and biometric.

  • The job contract along with two copies.

  • Proof of professional activity.

  • Copies of qualifications (diplomas, certificates, etc.)

  • Details about previous education, like grades, subjects, and the dates of attending university/college.

  • Evidence of trying to get work in another method.

  • The CV (resume).

Documents that are not in German, French, Italian, or English must be translated.

The types of residence permit that can be obtained with a Switzerland work visa are:

  • Permit L – for short-term residence. This permit is issued for up to one year and is tied to the terms of the employment contract. The permit holder can only work for that specific employer and company. In some cases, the visa can be extended for another year, but the stay with a Permit L cannot be longer than 24 months.

  • Permit B – for temporary/initial residence. The B Permit is also issued for one year, but it can be renewed annually. Work can only be performed for the same employer with this type of permit, and only within the same canton. After living in Switzerland with a B Permit for 10 continuous years, the permit holder becomes eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit (Permit C).

  • Permit C – for permanent residence. After having lived in Switzerland for ten continuous years, the foreign national can apply for Swiss permanent residence. Permit C allows to work for any employer, job changes, and to live anywhere in Switzerland

Getting a Tax Number

The tax ID is the 13-digit AHV insurance number, i.e. the social security number. Insured persons retain the same number throughout their lives and do not need to replace it in the event of a name change, for example due to marriage or divorce.

Every person with health insurance in Switzerland receives a health insurance card from their health insurer. The information on the health insurance card is identical to that on the social security insurance certificate, i.e. it states the AHV number. Registration for a social security insurance certificate is only necessary for people who do not have a Swiss health insurance card (such as immigrants from abroad). Every insured person can request a social security insurance certificate to be issued.

The application for a social security insurance certificate needs to be filed with the employer by the employee, or by a non-employed person to the cantonal compensation office in their place of residence.

Public Holidays in 2022

S.No Occasion Date
1 New Year’s Day January 1st
2 Good Friday April 15th
3 Easter Monday April 18th
4 Ascension Day May 26th
5 Whit Monday June 6th
6 National Day August 1st
7 Christmas Day December 25th
8 St Stephen’s Day December 26th

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