Geneva and Basel to vote on ‘world’s highest’ minimum wage

Geneva and Basel to vote on ‘world’s highest’ minimum wage
On September 27th, Geneva will go to the polls to decide on implementing what would be the world’s highest minimum wage.

If implemented, the minimum wage of 23 francs per hour would be the highest anywhere in the world. 

This is well above the current highest minimum wage in the world, which is Australia’s $19.84 per hour (CHF13.15). 

Over a 40-hour work week, this adds up to 4,100 francs per month. The average wage in Switzerland is currently CHF6,500. 

READ: Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know 

This will be the third time voters in Geneva are considering the question of implementing a minimum wage. 

A cantonal vote on implementing a minimum wage was knocked back by 54 percent of the electorate in 2011, while a similar vote at the federal level was rejected by 66 percent of the electorate in 2014. 

According to Swiss news outlet Le Temps, the coronavirus pandemic may play a key role in changing the outcome of the vote. 

Two Swiss cantons – Neuchâtel and Jura – have put in place minimums, while Ticino has recently approved a minimum via a referendum, but hasn't yet put it into law.

Basel will also go to the polls on a minimum wage of 23 francs, however a date for the vote has not been set. 

The vote will be held alongside five federal referendum questions. 

EXPLAINED: What's at stake in Switzerland's five referendums this month? 

That does not however mean that your employer is free to pay you as much – or as little – as he or she wants. 

Instead, the minimum amount you can be paid will be determined through negotiations with your employer which will may feature a trade union representative.

In Switzerland, minimum standards are not set by law, but by collective or individual bargaining with your employer. 

Generally, collective agreements will be negotiated by trade union representatives and will apply to an entire industry or in an entire canton, meaning that you yourself do not need to negotiate. 

There are however some jobs or industries – usually for jobs with higher incomes or which are less common – where negotiations will take place on an individual basis. 

These agreements will not just cover a minimum payment amount, but they will also set benefits, holiday pay and working conditions.

 


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