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EXPLAINED: Which Swiss cantons have a minimum wage?

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

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

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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ZURICH

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier 

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