Labour market in Switzerland

Switzerland cityscape at night
Updated 2018-08-20 12:13

The labour market in Switzerland is great, overall: Switzerland benefits from great working conditions and an unemployment rate well below the European average. What is more, if you're an EU/EFTA national, you enjoy the same rights and benefits as a Swiss national in the labour market. And even if the labour market is relatively protected, there are still employment opportunities for expats in prevailing economic sectors.

Salaries & working conditions

According to the Federal Statistical Office, employees in Switzerland put about 41 hours of work per week, with a legal maximum of 45 hours (50 hours for some professions). There is some working overtime, which is paid extra, but it is not a very common practice. Instead, flexible working hours are very common in Switzerland: people still clock in and out but decide their time of arrival and departure independently. This usually happens for family reasons, but also because as a rule people in Switzerland prefer to start their workday between 7 am and 8 am.

Good to know:

There's also the possibility to have a 90% position (which translates to working nine out of ten workdays) or a 50% position (two days of work one week, three days of work next week, according to the arrangement with your employer).

In Switzerland, a written contract is not mandatory per se. However, in case of dispute, the Swiss Code of Obligations shall prevail. It is still highly recommended to sign an employment contract in due form to specify the nature of the position held, working hours, days of leave and salary.

Although there is no official minimum wage, there are many sectors who have collective work agreements that will determine your minimum legal remuneration. Generally, however, salaries are quite high: you can calculate how your salary will look for your profession after taxes with the Salary Calculator tool (scroll to the end of the article). You should expect to receive your salary on a monthly basis and usually in 13 instalments if you've worked for a full year ' you get two instalments at the end of the year as a holiday stipend. If you want to leave your job, you are entitled to a 'truthful and benevolent' reference from your employer.

As for pension, retirement age is 64 for women and 65 for men, but you can get an early start by one or two years, for a fee. You can also postpone your retirement for up to five years, which will result in receiving an increased pension in the end.

Holidays & leaves of absence

As an employee in Switzerland, you are entitled to four weeks paid holidays per year minimum. Add to that nine annual public holidays (the number varies depending on which canton your company is based at) and the fact that in practice, employers will probably give you additional days, and looks like you'll be having enough time to unwind or travel. You are also entitled paid time off for special events like accidents, moving house, marriage, the birth of your child (for fathers) and death of close relatives. You can also arrange time off to observe religious holidays, as long as you make the request at least three days in advance and you agree to make up for the time off another day.

Good to know:

If you're under 20 years old, you're entitled to five weeks paid holidays instead of four.

Useful links:

Absences from work
Salary calculator

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