It is often written, particularly from the outside of the country, that Switzerland does not have minimum salary rules and whilst this is technically not incorrect, the majority of the workforce is governed by a minimum salary in some form or other.
Saying that Switzerland doesn’t have a minimum salary leaves an impression of capitalist lawlessness or everyone being too rich for it not to be an issue. Whilst there isn’t an official minimum salary as such, there are many different minimum salaries in Switzerland, and which are extremely highly regulated by multiple factors.
The contracts that govern most employees are called “Collective Bargaining Agreements”, Gesamt Arbeitsvertrag (DE) or CCT (Convention collective de travail) in FR.
- These agreements are entered into between groups of companies in specific industry sectors and their employees. They are subject to periodic reviews.
- They cover most industries and determine such things as minimum salaries for jobs within their sector, holidays, working conditions and benefits for their employee members.
- The employees’ representatives in the industry may have negotiated conditions that are above standard Swiss law and suit their specific profession. The variety of these sector contracts is so broad, that there may even be cantonal variations for certain larger industries. Their first purpose is to protect lower incomes from potential exploitation.
- These agreements are also often the source of industrial dispute when up for renewal.
There is usually a contribution calculated and deducted in the salary that the employer and employee must pay. This goes towards the support and maintenance of the agreement and its negotiated benefits.
Temporary Staff Agreements
- The largest bargaining agreement, is also one of the newer ones for the provision of temporary staff with over 400 000 subjects.
- Coming into force in 2013 its aim was to provide a dignified minimum standard of income, holiday rights, sickness and dismissal protection, in what was previously a large, but overlooked – and often exploited group.
- It is also designed for companies to have flexibility in staffing requirements, which may peak and dip seasonally and with economic demand.
- This agreement like the others, has multiple minimum salaries dependent on qualification, skillset and also location. This acknowledges that like anywhere else, some area of the country are more expensive than others.
- Holiday rights vary with age too. These elements are relatively as expected in such an agreement, but there are also parts that people are less aware of.
- In the bargaining agreement for temporary staff there is a salary contribution of 1% which is split between the employer and employee 0.3% / 0.7%.
- The above protects lower and middle class earners, but it does not apply to employees in the sector with a prorate income above CHF 148′ 200 per annum.
The simplified minimum annual salaries in the agreement this year 2023 are
Income Zone Unskilled Semi-skilled Skilled
Normal 47’190 50’565 57’460
High 49’970 53’997 54’430
Ticino 42’646 47’018 61’360
High income areas in Switzerland are considered to be: Zürich, Basel City, Basel Countryside, Geneva, Bern agglomeration and lake Geneva area. Everywhere else is considered “normal”, apart from the Italian speaking canton of Ticino which has a lower obligation. The values can be broken down prorate into hourly figures.
- In addition to the supporting members in the traditional areas of these agreements, the benefits include a couple of lesser known items such as a subsidy for sickness insurance costs and further education support.
- In terms of the maintenance and continued negotiation built in the 1% of salary contribution, 0.4% of this reduces the cost of the sickness insurance that the employer (subject to this agreement) has to provide.
A temporary employee typically used to have less rights than a permanent employee particulary in the area of further education leading to the temporary employees falling further behind in their career training.
This benefit attempts to address this issue and a temporary employee may obtain up to CHF5’000 worth of training if they have worked 880 hours or more in the last 12 months as a temporary employee.
Benefits are available from as few as 88 hours. The courses a member can choose from range from language courses to special industrial skills, health, gastronomy and economic skills to name just some.
Those of you who have been contributing to the agreement, can perhaps take a look and see what may appeal and what you qualify for.
Finally, there are other areas of employment that are not managed by minimum salaries in Switzerland, but are less common than we are led to believe. These can have multiple complex frameworks supporting their own sectors instead of a state figure. More recently an actual minimum salary has been voted for and applied in the cantons of Neuchâtel and Geneva, which sit outside of these agreements covering those people not yet protected by the bargaining agreements.
Swissroll GmbH was founded over 20 years ago. During this time our team of experts has worked with hundreds of companies and literally thousands of contractors. Beyond our core function of payroll management, we offer advice to contractors coming to work in Switzerland for the first time. This includes advice on contracts and salaries in Switzerland. Swissroll: “More than just payroll specialists”
Contact us now on: firstname.lastname@example.org