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Recently, the canton of Geneva launched a campaign to raise awareness of the costs and risks of employing domestic workers illegally, including fines and legal sanctions.
The campaign is focussed on explaining why undeclared work does not pay, employing the slogan: “ça se paie cash!”, which roughly translates to: paying illegal workers cash in hand comes with a heavy cost.
These costs fall on the employee: no sick pay; no pension; low income, and on society: lost tax receipts; growth in illegal migration and human trafficking; damage to social cohesion.
Illegal employment practices include paying less than the minimum wage, not declaring staff to the social security department and making social security payments, employing a foreigner without a valid work permit, and not deducting and remitting income taxes from salary payments, required when employing foreigners on most work permits.
There is no guaranteed minimum wage in Switzerland, however if you employ a domestic worker for five hours or more per week, special federal government rules require you the pay minimum rates. The rules and rates can be found here in French and German.
The federal government has set a minimum wage of CHF 18.55 per hour for those with no experience or training, rising to CHF 22.40 for those with experience and qualifications.
Geneva has its own rules which set the minimum at CHF 19.26, rising to CHF 24.77 for qualified experienced staff.
As soon as someone is taken on, the employer must register them for compulsory social insurance coverage and start paying social security taxes. If the employee is a foreigner they must have a valid work permit. The cantonal work inspection office can request documents proving that employment rules have been respected. Any employer who refuses to provide the documents when requested can face fines up to CHF 40,000 and end up in court.
Switzerland has a reputation for onerous administration, something which starts with a trip to your local commune office to announce your presence when you arrive in the country. Employing someone to clean or look after your children is no exception, however there are companies that can take away much of the administrative burden. One is quitt.ch, which works across Switzerland and offers a service tailored to the specific rules in the cantons where it operates.