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EXPLAINED: Which Swiss cantons have a minimum wage?

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EXPLAINED: Which Swiss cantons have a minimum wage?
Several Swiss cantons now have a minimum wage. Photo: Valentin FLAURAUD / AFP

Basel City has become the latest Swiss canton to put in place a minimum wage. Which cantons have one - and what are the rules?


On Sunday, June 13th, the citizens of Basel City voted in favour of introducing a minimum wage set at 21 francs an hour.

It is the first German-speaking canton to approve this measure in the entire country. 

The vote only passed narrowly, with 50.7 percent of voters approving the measure. 

However, Basel City is not the first canton to have put in place a minimum wage in Switzerland. 

Three Swiss-French cantons, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Geneva, and the Italian-speaking Ticino, have already done so. 

The minimum hourly salary ranges from 19 francs in Ticino to 23.14 in Geneva.

The rate in Geneva is technically the highest minimum wage in the world. 

Unions in Zurich and Aargau are also pushing for minimum wages to be put in place there, while municipal authorities are also pushing for a minimum wage in the Zurich region. 

An effort to put in place a national minimum wage failed at the ballot box in 2014. 


How does minimum wage work in Switzerland? 

When compared to its European neighbours - or countries globally - Switzerland is known for its high salaries. Therefore, it is perhaps surprising to find out that the country does not have an officially mandated minimum hourly wage. 

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. 

Whether this be an hourly amount or one which is set for full or part-time hours, setting a minimum standard in specific industries is a common way to ensure workers aren’t underpaid or unpaid. 

More information about the minimum wage in Switzerland can be found at the following link. 

Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know


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