Switzerland debates offering tax breaks to encourage people to work full-time

Switzerland debates offering tax breaks to encourage people to work full-time

With Switzerland’s ongoing shortage of workers only set to get worse over the coming years, a new proposal from FDP. The Liberals hopes to cushion the crisis by getting people to work longer. Under the plans, due to be discussed in parliament soon, those who choose to work full time would be rewarded with lower taxes.

Rise in part-time work contributing to Swiss worker shortage

According to the latest data from the Federal Statistical Office, a large number of people in Switzerland are choosing to work less. In 1991, over 92 percent of working men and 51 percent of women chose to work at least 40 hours a week. Today, this figure has fallen to 81 and 42 percent respectively.

20 Minuten noted that this transition to more flexible jobs and hybrid working is exacerbating staff shortages, as companies are forced to hire more people to achieve the same output. Therefore, members of the FDP have argued that getting people to work more is part of the solution to the crisis.

FDP plan would see full-time workers given tax reductions

This thinking came to fruition in a motion submitted to parliament by FDP State Councillor Damian Müller this week, which called for people who work full-time to be rewarded when filling out their tax returns. The idea will be discussed in the winter session of parliament this year.

In essence, the proposal would give those on full-time work contracts a tax deduction. Its value would be set roughly in line with the deduction given when investing in a third-pillar private pension. Based on rates from 2023, this would allow 7.056 francs to be taken off a worker’s salary when calculating their taxes for the year.

Supporters argue plan is a balanced incentive to work

Speaking to 20 Minuten, Müller said he was fully aware that his idea is not a golden bullet, noting that in order to solve the worker shortage, “A whole range of measures is necessary.” “With my motion, I am not pitting one measure against another, I am proposing an additional measure - completely voluntary, but with an incentive that should be particularly effective,” he added.

The proposal already has the cautious support of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP). State Councillor Hannes Germann said that while they “would have to check carefully beforehand whether the whole thing would lead to major tax losses or injustice”, the idea is ideal in principle as it would not force people to work full-time but provide a financial incentive to do so.

Opponents question the cost and viability of the plan

However, the idea has plenty of critics, with State Councillor Peter Hegglin (Centre) arguing that with federal finances as they are, “The path that Mr Müller suggests is not the right one.” He made the point that 46 percent of the Swiss population doesn't pay federal taxes, and that “with such a deduction, this share would increase.” Social Democratic State Councillor Carlo Sommaruga agreed, noting that “in the federal government’s current financial situation, [the proposal] would be inappropriate.”

Practicality was also raised as an issue, with Hegglin questioning: “How should self-employed people, people who work multiple part-time jobs, those who only get a part-time job or those who do family work and therefore cannot work full-time be taken into account?” For their part, the executive Federal Council said that while it does not support the plan in its current form, it is looking into ways of making working full-time more attractive.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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