FOR MEMBERS

Reader question: Which Swiss canton has the highest minimum wage?

A waiter fixes a table arrangement
Service workers such as waiters rely more heavily on minimum standards. Where in Switzerland has the highest minimum wage? Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
In Switzerland, minimum wage can be regulated at a cantonal level. Here’s where it’s the highest.

In June 2021, Basel City became the latest Swiss canton to put in place a minimum wage. 

This means that five of Switzerland’s 26 cantons have now put in place a minimum standard. 

Minimum wage in Switzerland operates in a complex and sometimes confusing fashion. 

Employers in cantons without a minimum wage standard are not however free to pay their workers whatever they like. 

Wages will be set by collective agreements, a consequence of Switzerland’s strong union sector. 

This is illustrated by the fact that cleaners are paid at a higher rate than minimum wage in each canton which has a minimum standard. 

READ MORE: What do cleaners earn in Switzerland – and where do they earn the most?

Which Swiss cantons have a minimum wage? 

Five Swiss cantons have a minimum wage: Jura, Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino and Basel. 

Neuchâtel was the first to put in a minimum standard, doing so in 2017, following on from a referendum decision in 2011. 

Jura was second, doing so in November of 2017. Geneva (November 2020) and Ticino (January 2021) followed suit. 

Basel is expected to implement the minimum standard at the start of 2022, just over six months after the referendum of June 2021. 

Minimum wage appears to be more popular in Latin Switzerland, with only one German-speaking canton having put a minimum standard in place. 

In 2014, Switzerland held a referendum on whether to set the minimum wage at CHF22 federally, but the move was rejected

What is the highest? 

Geneva’s minimum wage of CHF23 per hour is not only the highest in Switzerland, but it is believed to be the highest standard in the world. 

While the Basel proposal was also for a minimum wage of CHF23 per hour, the government’s counter proposal – which was accepted at the referendum – was for a minimum standard of CHF21 per hour. 

In Neuchâtel, the minimum wage is set at CHF20.08 per hour. In Jura, the minimum wage is CHF20 per hour. 

Ticino’s minimum wage of CHF19 per hour is therefore the lowest cantonal minimum standard in Switzerland. 

Canton Wage level (per hour)
Geneva CHF23
Basel City CHF21*
Neuchâtel CHF20.08
Jura CHF20
Ticino CHF19
*Will be implemented in 2022

Zurich has discussed the idea at length, however no uniform standard has been set. 

In the southern canton of Valais, activists are pushing to launch a referendum for a minimum wage, which would make it the sixth canton to have one in place

READ MORE: Will Zurich introduce a minimum wage?

How does minimum wage work in Switzerland? 

As illustrated above, minimum wage in Switzerland is influenced by a variety of factors. 

This includes collective agreements and union negotiated conditions. 

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. 

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

Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.