What is the minimum wage in Switzerland you can expect? Find out the average salary in Switzerland and conditions for salaries in Switzerland in certain industries.
If you’re looking for jobs in Switzerland, expats may be unnerved that there is currently no national Swiss minimum wage in force across the country, despite efforts from the government in 2014. This means that salaries in Switzerland are left to the open market, except in some industries where collective bargaining agreements result in specific worker rights and minimum wages in Switzerland.
In 2014, Swiss voters rejected a proposal to introduce what would have been the highest minimum wage in the world at CHF 22 per hour. Just over three quarters of voters were against the legislation.
While some campaigners were concerned about rising costs for employers (especially in industries such as catering), many argued that a minimum wage in Switzerland would have little effect as the overwhelming majority of Swiss employees already earned a Swiss salary well in excess of the proposed minimum wage. However, research also shows that costs for some goods and services in the main Swiss cities, such as Zurich and Geneva, are equal to New York.
Minimum wage in Switzerland
Decisions over salaries in Switzerland are generally left to employers, but some industries are governed by collective labour agreements (CLA or GAV, Gesamtarbeitsvertrag). According to 2015 OECD data, Switzerland had the highest average annual wage compared to its fellow European countries, except for Luxembourg.
CLAs exist at national, regional, cantonal and company levels; you can enquire with your employer or each relevant authority to find out if a CLA exists. In addition to a minimum Swiss wage, collective bargaining agreements can also regulate everything from employment termination periods to holiday allowance. One of the most well known agreements is the Collective Labour Agreement for the Hotel and Restaurant Industry (L-GAV), which is binding for all employers and employees in the sector in Switzerland.
Average salary in Switzerland
The average salary in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, but so too is the cost of living.
Research released in March 2018 by the relocation company CapRelo found that Switzerland has the highest average pay and lowest tax rate of any of the 41 countries it surveyed, with an estimated annual take home pay of around CHF 85,000.
Salaries in Switzerland can also vary significantly between regions, although so does the cost of living. For example, data from the Conference of Education Directors for German-speaking Switzerland revealed an upper secondary school teacher in Zurich (the highest academic level after university) could earn around CHF 110,590 from the first year (or CHF 8,506 per month under Switzerland’s 13-month salary payment), while a teacher in neighbouring St Gallen earned around CHF15,000 less. Despite still being relatively high salaries, in context an upper secondary teacher in St Gallen earned the same in 2015 as in 1993, despite inflation rising 15.3%.
As in other countries, gross salary in Switzerland is subject to a range of deductions, such as Swiss social security (covering old age, unemployment insurance and pension schemes, etc.) and a range of taxes in Switzerland.
If you’d like to find the expected average wage in Switzerland in your industry, you can check the salary calculator (in French and German) operated by the Swiss Trade Union Federation. In addition to Swiss minimum wages, you can also find out about the key attributes needed for different types of jobs, and how common different levels of qualifications are in each sector.
For certain common jobs in Switzerland, Lohncomputer offers the following annual wage estimates from salary surveys.
Average salaries for jobs in Switzerland
- Executive managers: CHF 100,000–160,000
- Doctor/Vet: CHF 110,000–130,000
- IT: CHF 115,000–120,000
- Lawyer: CHF 111,600
- Engineer: CHF 108,500
- Marketing officer: CHF 90,500
- Civil servant: CHF 85,800
- Journalist/Editor/: CHF 85,200
- Draftsman/Architect: CHF 75,000
- Translator: CHF 73,200
- Teacher: CHF 87,500
- Police officer: CHF 82,200
- Postal worker: CHF 66,600
Zurich’s Office for Economy and Labour also publishes an annual report outlining salaries in Zurich for almost every profession; the Lohnbuch 2018 (in German) includes data on typical salaries based on age and experience.
Besides relatively high average salaries in Switzerland, worker rights are also better than in some other European countries. The Swiss government sets limits on the amount of hours employees are allowed to work – 45 for office staff and retail workers, and 50 for other salaried workers. Overtime must be paid at 125% of the normal wage.
Holiday allowances, meanwhile, are similar to countries such as the United Kingdom. Employees over the age of 20 are allowed four weeks holiday per year by law (workers under the age of 20 are allowed five weeks), and many employers increase this amount for long-term workers. In addition, each canton is allowed to set up to a maximum of Swiss public holidays.
Salaries in Switzerland are usually reviewed on a yearly basis, with pay increases taking effect from 1 January the following year. Swiss salaries are usually paid monthly for the equivalent of 13 months per year.
Swiss salaries for foreigners
Foreign employees working in Switzerland have the right to be paid at a rate equivalent to the Swiss salary in their chosen profession. This rule is prescribed in the Swiss Federal Act on Assignments (Entsendegesetz). You can use this salary calculator to estimate your average salary in Switzerland.
The government performs random checks salaries in Switzerland of foreign workers to ensure they are up to par with Swiss nationals, and has the power to fine any company who fails to conform to this regulation.
In addition to fines, employers guilty of breaking rules may also have to back-pay any workers affected. As there is no set salary for most professions in Switzerland, estimates are done on a case-by-case basis, based upon a range of factors such as job grade, qualifications, and working hours.
Click to the top our guide to minimum wage in Switzerland.