If you are working in Switzerland, you will need to know the key terms and costs associated with your salary and payslip. Additionally, you will also need to know what the average salary in your locality is and what salaries can be expected if you are looking for a job. Switzerland does not have a national minimum wage, but some communities (particularly Swiss cities) have started to bring in their own versions.
Types of Swiss salary
The Swiss system of taxation is based around charging taxes that are calculated by your gross income. This system is integral to the Swiss tax system and allows income tax to be charged fairly. The system may differ from other nations and must be calculated to make sure you know what your take-home pay will be.
Your gross salary is the total amount of salary that you are paid before any deductions are made. The amount agreed upon will be detailed in your employment contract as either a monthly or annual sum. When you are negotiating a salary in Switzerland, you will always be talking in terms of a gross salary.
Your net salary is the amount of money that you will receive from your employer once all deductions have been made. This is once social security system, such as your pension contributions, have been deducted. The net pay will be the amount you will receive on a monthly basis. Your tax contributions will also be made from your net salary, as detailed in your tax return.
Net salary calculator for Switzerland
Switzerland has a large amount of variation when it comes to taxes and social security. Often, it is the responsibility of your local council (Gemeinde) to determine the level of tax. In addition, many urban counties (cantons) have larger social security systems and will demand more. In order to help, the Federal Tax Administration has a tool to assist in calculating what your total taxes will be.
Bonus packages for work in Switzerland
As well as your gross salary, your employer will often offer various benefits alongside your regular contract. These are perks that allow for greater luxuries or more work flexibility. Particularly if you are moving to Switzerland to work at an international company, you will often be given benefits that allow for an easy transition into Swiss life for you and your family. Some of the more common benefits can be:
- Complementary dentistry
- A company car
- Relocation services
- Places and the coverage of fees for international schools in Switzerland
- Travel expenses for public transport
Understanding your Swiss payslip
If you are working full- or part-time in Switzerland, you will receive a regular monthly payslip from your employer. There, they will detail your gross salary alongside the mandatory social security contributions for that month.
Personal information on a Swiss payslip
Typically, the top of a Swiss payslip will detail personal information related to your employment. Many of the common details are:
- Your name and home address.
- The address of your employer. The canton where your employer is based.
- Your social security number, the number that governments and insurance firms use to calculate your social security benefits.
- Date of the start of your employment.
- Date of the settlement of payroll, for most Swiss companies this is around the 23rd to the 25th of each month.
Payroll sections for a payslip in Switzerland
The middle section of the payslip will consist of a thorough breakdown of the various social security contributions that have to be paid from your gross salary. These are:
- Your standard gross monthly wage
- Any declared overtime
- Your total gross salary for the month
- OASI / AHV – This is your contribution to the mandatory first pillar pension scheme.
- BVG – This is a payment that you make toward your second pillar pension.
- IV – This is your contribution to disability insurance.
- UI / ALV – This is your contribution to unemployment benefits.
- SUVA – This is your contribution to the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA) which delivers accident and occupational disease insurance.
Additional information on a Swiss payslip
The final part of a payslip in Switzerland is typically more personal data about where your payslip is being paid to. Most companies now pay employees through online methods, so you will automatically receive your payment through your bank account and will receive the payslip in order to keep it on record for when you need to pay your taxes. Some of the things that can be found in this section are your full banking details or details of a fund that you are paying your salary to.
Average earnings in Switzerland
As of 2020, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, the average gross annual wage for someone working full-time in Switzerland was 78.456 Swiss francs a year. This amounts to around 6.500 Swiss francs a month. The median wage for Switzerland in 2020 was 60.847 according to the OECD.
Swiss average salary by profession
Typically, your profession and seniority define how much you should be paid in Switzerland. It is important when looking for a job to have a salary in mind as most employers will ask you how much you expect to earn. Therefore, it is always valuable to check what your type of work is worth in Switzerland.
Median gross monthly wage
|Managers (chief executives, senior officials, administrative,
production, hospitality and retail)
|Professionals (scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors,
business and admin staff, professional skilled workers)
|Technicians and associate professionals (associates of medical staff,
scientific legal and business staff)
|Clerical support workers (customer service, clerks)||5.808|
|Service and sales workers (personal service, sales, personal care
and protective service workers)
|Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers||5.250|
|Craft and tradesmen||5.795|
|Factory workers and drivers||5.572|
|Elementary occupations (cleaners, helpers, food preparation assistants,
refuse workers, labourers)
Source: Federal Statistical Office (FSO), data circa 2018
Cheapest taxes in Switzerland
Swiss cantons are also allowed to institute their own tax system, leading to some communities being cheaper than others. Below is a chart of the cantons’ tax rates based on the gross median wage of 60.847 Swiss francs a year.
|Canton||Average regional & local tax rate for Swiss median salary||Canton||Average regional & local tax rate for Swiss median salary|
|Zug (ZG)||11,4%||Thurgau (TG)||17,8%|
|Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI)||13,1%||Schaffhausen (SH)||17,9%|
|Schwyz (SZ)||14,9%||Luzern (LU)||18%|
|Zurich (ZH)||15,4%||Appenzell Ausserhoden (AR)||18,4%|
|Nidwalden (NW))||16,1%||Basel Land (BL)||19,1%|
|Graubünden (GR)||16,3%||Jura (JU)||19,3%|
|Obwalden (OW)||16,3%||St Gallen (SG)||19,9%|
|Ticino (TI)||16,5%||Basel Stadt (BS)||20,1%|
|Uri (UR)||16,5%||Solothurn (SO)||20,1%|
|Aargau (AG)||16,9%||Freiburg / Fribourg (FR)||20,3%|
|Glarus (GL)||17%||Bern (BE)||20,7%|
|Valais / Wallis (VS)||17,7%||Vaud (VD)||21,2%|
|Genève (GE)||17,8%||Neuchatel (NE)||21,5%|
Source: Talent.com and Federal Tax Administration
Regional variations in a Swiss salary
To this day, Switzerland has large regional variations when it comes to salaries. Italian-speaking cantons such as Ticino can have average wages that are 20 percent lower than the national average. Below is a chart showing you which areas pay higher or lower than the national average.
|Region of Switzerland||Higher and Middle Management||Lower management||Entry level management||Non-management position|
|Lake Geneva Region
(VD, VS, GE)
(BE, FR, SO, NE, JU)
(BS, BL, AG)
(GL, SH, AR, AI, GR, TG)
(LU, UR, SZ, OW, NW, ZG)
Source: Federal Statistical Office (FSO)
What is the minimum wage in my canton?
Each canton has the authority to institute its own minimum wage through a referendum. Swiss voters rejected a national minimum wage of 23 Swiss francs an hour in 2014. Some cantons and local communities have instituted their own minimum wage, and some who have started a business in Switzerland have also agreed on a minimum wage with their workforces which usually accounts for between 19 and 24 Swiss francs. The official minimum wages are:
|Community||Minimum wage (Swiss francs per hour)|
|Canton Basel Stadt||21|
|Canton Ticino||19,75 - 20,25|