Working in Switzerland: last month's article covered topics such as salary, unemployment and family allowance. Below, we conclude this short series on working in Switzerland.

Author:Donnellon, Brien
Position:Business: finance column

Work and residence permits

Thanks to a bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) on the free movement of persons, a 'twin-track' application system is necessary to enter Switzerland. This system provides priority access for employees from EU member states and includes a non-restrictive immigration policy for specialists and qualified staff from non-EU states. The employer must apply for the work permit for all foreign employees. It can take up to a month to gain approval and longer if the applicant is a non-EU citizen. For frequently asked questions and answers on this topic, please visit:

Mandatory insurance

Switzerland has one of the best social security and pension systems in the world. The government-managed old age and survivors' pension, as well as long-term disability insurance (Pillar 1), meets the basic needs of the insured or beneficiary. Contributions are compulsory and are funded by the employer and employee.

Mandatory accident insurance covers employees against occupational and non-occupational accidents. Part-time employees who work less than eight hours per week are only insured against occupational accidents. The employer funds the insurance premiums for occupational accidents and illness, while the employee pays the non-occupational cover.

Daily sickness benefits are voluntary and their cost depends on the scope of cover (illness, maternity, accident). The premiums can be equally divided between the employer and the employee. If group company insurance is not arranged, employers are obliged to pay employees their full salary for a certain period of time (depending on the number of years of service), if they are deemed unable to work.

Weekly working hours

The average working week is between 40 and 44 hours, with a legal maximum of 45. This also applies to office staff. For commercial operations, the legal maximum is 50 hours per week. Some professions, including taxi drivers, legally qualify for longer hours.

In order to define overtime, clarity between normal and maximum working hours is important. Overtime is compensated with a 25 per cent premium. However, it is common for the employer and employee to agree that additional leave is taken as a 14o-1 compensation for overtime. A Cantonal permit is often required to work on Sundays or on public holidays.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave of at least 14 weeks is paid at 80 per cent of the salary (with a maximum CHF 196 per day). The...

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