What we know about Zurich's planned minimum wage

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What we know about Zurich's planned minimum wage
Zurich now has a minimum wage. Image by Jörg Vieli from Pixabay

Voters in the Swiss city of Zurich have approved a move to implement a new minimum wage law for residents.


Along with Winterthur, the canton’s second-largest city, Zurich will have, from 2024 a minimum salary law for the lowest-paid workers — the first two Swiss cities to approve such a move.

Other minimum-pay laws in Switzerland are on cantonal levels only.

In Zurich, 69 percent of voters approved the minimum wage of 23.90 francs an hour, while in Winterthur, the salary will be set at 23 francs an hour, after 65 percent of voters accepted the proposal.

‘Historic moment’

The acceptance at the polls “represents concrete progress for tens of thousands of people who still work today at too low wages,” the Swiss Union Federation said in a statement on Sunday.

Cédric Wermuth, co-president of the Social Democratic Party, described it as an "historic moment".

To date, only the cantons of Geneva, Basel-City, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Ticino have introduced minimum wages.

READ ALSO: Where in Switzerland is there a minimum wage and how much is it?

Who is this minimum wage intended for?

An estimated 17,000 low-income Zurich residents, two-thirds of whom are women, will see their hourly wages increase to 23.90 francs an hour — about 4,000 francs a month.

The law is set to come into force from 2024. 

People under 25 without a professional diploma, apprentices, as well as those undergoing an internship for a maximum of 12 months, are not eligible under the new legislation.


Also, people who earn a salary that is above the required minimum — as most people in Zurich, Winterthur, and Switzerland as a whole do — will still receive their usual salaries, rather than have them lowered to the required minimum.

Why is this a big deal?

Unlike most European nations, Switzerland doesn’t have a national minimum wage.

In 2014, the country held a referendum that proposed setting the minimum wage at 22 francs an hour, but the move was rejected by 76.3 percent of voters.

They accepted the government's argument that a compulsory minimum wage would force smaller companies out of business.

In Switzerland, where salaries are among the world's highest — about 6,500 francs a month on average in 2023 — wages largely depend on the individual employment contracts which, in turn, are determined by collective agreements, negotiated between labour unions and employers.

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


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