Switzerland flag Switzerland: Operating a Business in Switzerland

Work conditions in Switzerland

The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 4,953,9684,965,0774,959,300

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Total activity rate 83.96%84.17%84.21%
Men activity rate 88.50%88.39%88.24%
Women activity rate 79.34%79.87%80.10%

Source: International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database

Employed Persons, by Occupation (% of Total Labour Force) 2015
Human health and social work activities 13.9%
Manufacturing 12.5%
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 12.2%
Professional, scientific and technical activities 8.7%
Education 7.8%
Construction 5.8%
Financial and insurance activities 5.4%
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security 5.1%
Transportation and storage 4.3%
Accommodation and food service activities 3.9%
Administrative and support service activities 3.4%
Information and communication 3.4%
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 3.2%
Arts, entertainment and recreation 1.7%
Real estate activities 1.0%
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 0.6%
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 0.3%
Mining and quarrying 0.1%

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Working Conditions

Legal Weekly Duration
45 hours for technicians and white collar employees; 50 hours for other employees (e.g. building, industry and agriculture).
Retirement Age
65 years
Working Contracts
Legal clauses regulate employment contracts and, to a lesser degree, collective agreements and individual negotiations. Under Swiss law, foreign citizens need a residence permit and a work permit to be employed in the country. They are granted at the cantonal level (quotas apply) and approved at the federal level.

The terms of employment contracts are rigid. The legal regime governing the employment relationship in Switzerland is generally more liberal and favourable towards the employer than in many other countries. Permission from the competent authority is needed for the appointment of a foreign employee and the requirements relating to the nationality of employees depend on the type of the company. In case of a stock company, the majority of the members of the board of directors must have Swiss or EU/EFTA country citizenship and must be domiciled in Switzerland, whereas for any other type of company there are no similar restrictions.

Labour Laws
Doing Business: Switzerland, to obtain a summary of labour regulations that apply to local enterprises

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Cost of Labour

Minimum Wage
No minimum wage exists, except in the canton of Neuchâtel where it rises CHF 20 per hour. In October 2020, the canton of Geneva voted to introduce a minimum wage of CHF 23 per hour.
Furthermore, the majority of the voluntary collective bargaining agreements contain clauses on minimum compensation, which vary according to the sector and the experience of the worker.
Average Wage
Wages in Switzerland are among the highest in the world. According to the latest figures published by the Federal Statistical Office, in 2018 the gross monthly wage averaged CHF 6,538.
Social Contributions
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers:
  • Old-age, survivors’, and disability insurance (10.55%; the employee’s share is one half;)
  • Unemployment insurance/supplementary unemployment insurance (approximately 2.2%; the employee’s share is one half)
  • Family compensation fund (0.3% to 3.5%; usually fully employer financed)
  • Occupational accident insurance (approximately 0.17%; fully employer financed)
  • Occupational pension scheme (2nd pillar) (contributions depend on pension plan; the employee’s share is usually half of the total contribution, where the employer bears the other half).

Social Security Contributions Paid By Employees: diseases and maternity: 0.225%; old age and widowers: 4.20; disability: 0.70%; and unemployment: 1.10% on the monthly salary, capped at an annual amount of CHF 148,000.

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Social Partners

Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
Switzerland does not have strong trade unions. Labour/management relations are good, mostly characterised by a willingness on both sides to settle disputes by negotiations rather than by strikes. The rights to strike is limited for civil servants.
Unionisation Rate
15.7% of wage and salary earners are trade union members as of 2014 (OECD data)
Labour Regulation Bodies
Switzerland Labour Law Profile
Swiss Managers Union
Swiss Association of Asset Managers

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Latest Update: June 2022

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