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EMPLOYMENT

Five official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Switzerland

Whether you already have a Swiss job or are in the process of looking for one, these websites provide information and resources you'll find helpful.

Five official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Switzerland
A number of Swiss websites provide good information for job seekers. Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels

Switzerland is certainly one of the best countries to work in. Its salaries are among the highest in the world, although whether the wages offset the high cost of living is another question.

The country also has strong labour laws encompassing working conditions, employees’ rights, annual leave and other time off, protection from discrimination, and gender equality, among other aspects of employment.

READ MORE: What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

In addition to the basic rules and conditions outlined in this legislation, many employees are also covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CLA), a kind of contract negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. 

The type of website that you’ll likely find useful depends on whether you’re still looking for a job in Switzerland or already have one.

If you’re in the former category, you should know that your passport determines how easy or difficult it may be to get a Swiss employer to hire you.

You can find out how to apply for a job in Switzerland in both of the above cases in this separate article.

In a nutshell, if you are a citizen of the European Union or EFTA states (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), finding a job here is easier than if you are from another country (known in Switzerland as a ‘third nation’).

But first things first…

Before you start your job search, and even if you’ve already found a position, learn about what the Swiss legislation says about your rights and obligations as an employee.

This government website provides a good overview, in English, of what you can expect while working in Switzerland.

As far as official sources go for job seekers, the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) features detailed information on how to obtain a Swiss work permit if you are a EU / EFTA citizen or a national of a third country.

There is also separate information for UK citizens, who used to be part of the EU before Brexit but now are considered third-country nationals.

Congratulations, you already have a Swiss work permit

Even if you already have the right to work in Switzerland, you may still have some questions relating to your employment.

This website, put together by the federal, cantonal and communal authorities, is a good resource about short- or long-term employment, as well as self-employment.

All these sites provide good general overview, but you’ll find more specific information on the employment website of the canton in which you work.

There you’ll find all you need to know not only about working in a given canton, but also your rights in case you lose your job.

What about cross-border workers?

At the end of 2021, 362,000 cross-border workers were employed in Switzerland, according to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Most of them (203,689) come from France, followed by workers from Italy (86,322) and Germany (63, 547). The smallest group (8,489) is from Austria.

These people, who typically commute to and from work on daily basis, but have to return to their main place of residence abroad at least once a week, must obtain the so-called G work permit, which is given only to eligible border area residents.

Border regions are those in close enough geographic proximity to the Swiss border to make daily commuting to and from work feasible.

This site has all the information needed for those who want to become cross-border employees, or already are.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who can work in Switzerland but live in a neighbouring country?

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FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Under the tagline ‘money isn’t everything’, a southern German newspaper recently caused a stir by publishing ‘five reasons you shouldn’t move to Switzerland’ for work. What are the five points - and are they accurate?

FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

With one in four Swiss residents foreign, the country clearly has some pulling power. Most of this is based around Switzerland’s strong job market, which has high salaries in a variety of sectors. 

Switzerland boasts some of the highest salaries of anywhere in the world. 

Those in management positions or in sought after professions such as IT and medicine can earn considerable amounts, while other professions which may not be as traditionally high paid like teachers and cleaners also benefit from comparatively high wages. 

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

However, not everything is rosy for foreigners who come to Switzerland to work. 

In mid-July, German newspaper Südkurier ran a report targeted at Germans who may want to work in Switzerland – along with those who have already done so. 

Under the title “Because money isn’t everything: Five reasons not to work in Switzerland”, the newspaper – which is headquartered just over the German border in Konstanz – lays out five reasons why moving to Switzerland for work isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

The article has caused a mild stir in Switzerland, with Swiss tabloid Blick pointing out that some of the claims were inaccurate

While any such list is by its very nature subjective, we’ve listed the five claims and had a go at debunking them (or at least explaining them in more depth). 

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments. 

1: Too much overtime and too few holidays

It’s important to mention that everything is coming from a German perspective, with the paper comparing things in Switzerland to those in Germany. 

While that may not make too much of a difference for some, it will for others – particularly when it comes to the question of overtime and holidays. 

Verdict: The downsides of Zurich you should be aware of before moving

In Switzerland, workers are entitled to a statutory minimum of four weeks off per year. 

While this might seem excellent compared to other countries such as the United States, it is one week fewer than their German counterparts. 

The Südkurier also complained about overtime in Switzerland, where workers are expected to work far over their usual 40-hour work weeks. 

There does seem to be some truth to this – Germans and German employers tend to push for a stronger adherence to the 40-hour week than some Swiss businesses – but this will also depend dramatically on the company. 

Under Swiss law, those who do work overtime however will be entitled to either a 25 percent loading on that time, or to bank those hours for additional leave in future, so be sure to research the specifics of overtime in your work contract. 

Health insurance is far too expensive – particularly for deductibles 

Another major gripe was the way in which Switzerland’s healthcare system operates and how much it costs. 

While the high cost of Swiss health insurance is no secret, what got the German newspaper particularly upset was the way Switzerland handles its deductibles. 

Most German health insurance plans have no deductibles, whereas in Switzerland this can be thousands of francs depending on your plan. 

The Südkurier however implied that the lowest deductible is CHF2,000, which is patently untrue.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?

The level of a deductible will be up to each insured person. 

The minimum deductible in Switzerland is 300 Swiss francs (around €260). The maximum amount is 2,500 francs. The higher your deductible (in other words, the more you pay out of your own pocket) the lower your monthly premium is.

Childcare is also too pricey

Another sticking point was Switzerland’s high childcare costs, which made it prohibitive for families with two working parents. 

On this point, it is hard to argue. 

The high costs of childcare are a frequent complaint of many a parent in Switzerland. 

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130. 

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent. 

For ways to save – and a number of alternative childcare options – check out the following link. 

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

…and in fact everything is just far too expensive

OK, we knew this one was coming. 

Besides chocolate, cheese and banks full of other people’s money, Switzerland is perhaps best known for being expensive. 

The country is especially pricey when it comes to food, beverages, hotels, housing, restaurants, clothing, and health insurance – or pretty much everything you need. 

Keep in mind however that while Switzerland is expensive for its residents, for people coming from abroad, high costs here are the ultimate culture shock.

If you work in Switzerland, you will earn significantly higher wages than most other countries – which somewhat offsets the cost of living. 

Also, many of the best things about Switzerland are actually free – from clean air and high levels of safety to the wonderful scenery and the amazing network of public footpaths that allow you to explore the county at a walking pace.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Learning Swiss German is essential but useless elsewhere 

On the final point, the Südkurier went all in on Swiss German, saying the language was necessary to navigate some parts of Swiss society but that it was completely useless elsewhere.

“It’s a language that won’t help you anywhere else in the world. You can’t use it to communicate in East Asia or South America, and it often doesn’t even help you in other parts of Switzerland” the author wrote. 

While it is true that Swiss German is unlikely to be too helpful anywhere else in the world, the topic of Swiss German versus High German is particularly controversial, especially among Germans who have moved to Switzerland. 

The Local have been told by our German readers that the Swiss will often switch to English rather than speak High German, due to a combination of not being able to and simply not wanting to. 

While where you live will be crucial on whether you should speak Swiss German or not, learning at least some basics in the local dialect is essential for anyone regardless of where you move to. 

READ MORE: 15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

Are these accurate? Or are they not? Let us know in the comments below. 

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