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HEALTH

Switzerland opens first supermarket without employees

The first ‘employee free’ supermarket has opened in Switzerland, with Migros opening an outlet in the region of Grenchen.

Switzerland opens first supermarket without employees
Swiss shopping centre Migros. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

On Monday, February 1st, Migros opened its Voi Cube – a staff-free supermarket – in the canton of Solothurn. 

It is the first shop to open in Switzerland without any employees, reports Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes

Customers use an app to register before purchasing, before choosing their products and checking out independently using hand sensors. 

READ MORE: Everything that changes in Switzerland in February 2021 

Once payment has been made, people can leave the store through an automatic door. 

There are around 500 items on offer. 

The company praised the opening, saying it offered much needed convenience – especially in times of coronavirus lockdowns. 

“The store will be open around the clock, including on public holidays,” said a Migros spokesperson. 

In Grenchen eröffnet der erste «Voi Cube» der Migros – ein Laden, der ganz ohne Angestellte funktioniert. Via App können…

Posted by 20 Minuten on Monday, February 1, 2021

 

Unions however have criticised the announcement, saying large companies such as Migros – who have benefited from the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent measures – should “invest in people rather than machines”. 

“Qualified positions in the retail trade are being replaced. Only temporary workers in precarious working conditions who have to fill the shelves and technicians who do IT maintenance are employed,” the spokesperson said. 

“Low wages and fragmented working hours are part of everyday life.”

Calling it a ‘walk-in vending machine’, the company dismissed these concerns. 

“The Voi Cube is not a replacement for a branch, it is merely an addition.”

 

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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