Brought to you by quitt.ch – No. 1 provider of registration and administration services for domestic help in Switzerland.
1. What do cleaners cost in Switzerland?
Cleaners are expensive in Switzerland and good personnel are hard to find. Prices typically range from around CHF 20 to CHF 35 an hour depending on the location and level of experience. Prices are high, partly because of the high value of the Swiss franc.
At quitt.ch most employment contracts have defined hourly wages between CHF 27.50 and CHF 30.00. A paid net wage CHF 20 usually results in a gross wage of around CHF 28.
There is no guaranteed minimum wage in general in Switzerland. However if you employ a cleaner for five hours or more per week, special federal government rules require you the pay minimum rates. With the exception of the Canton of Geneva, the standard employment contract for employees in domestic work (NAV for domestic work for jobs with an average of five hours per week or more with the same employer) stipulates the following gross minimum wages per hour (without holiday bonus):
- Unskilled employees without professional experience: CHF 19.50
- Unskilled employees with 4 years of professional experience in housekeeping: CHF 21.40
- Trained domestic workers with three years of basic vocational training and a Federal Certificate of Competence (EFZ): CHF 21.40
- Trained domestic worker with two years of vocational training and a professional certificate (EBA): CHF 23.50
In the canton of Geneva, the following gross monthly salaries have applied since 1 January 2023:
- CHF 4,204 per month for a 40-hour working week
- CHF 4,415 per month for a 42-hour working week
- CHF 4,730 per month for a 45-hour working week
These monthly salaries equate to a gross wage of CHF 24.26 per hour. The hourly wage can be reduced proportionally if a 13th month is paid bringing it to CHF 22.39. Some employers in Switzerland traditionally pay a bonus 13th month at the end of the year. For more information on the rules in the canton of Geneva in French click here.
If you are looking for a qualified cleaner and would like more information on pay you can search here.
2. What social security, pension payments and taxes must be paid?
Employers are required to register employees and make certain salary deductions and payments. The main ones are social security payments and withholding taxes.
Social security breaks down into two amounts: the employee portion, and an additional employer payment. The total of the two comes to around 15% of salary, however it varies by canton. Detailed information on social security payments can be found here in English.
Generally, withholding taxes must be deducted from the salaries of those who aren’t Swiss citizens or holders of a C-permit, and paid to the cantonal tax office. The tax office in your canton will be able to provide assistance with this.
The government also offers a simplified procedure. Under this scheme, instead of deducting and paying separate social security and withholding tax as described above, you deduct and pay 5% of the gross salary to a cantonal social security fund. Employees do not have to file an additional tax declaration for this income and you do not have to issue an annual wage statement. This is sent directly to the employee by the social security fund.
If you pay your nanny no more than CHF 22,050 a year (CHF 1,837.50 monthly) then you would qualify for this scheme. The scheme is open Swiss and foreign employees. However, family members and cross-border workers living in Liechtenstein and France do not qualify.
3. What pension payments are required?
Switzerland has a pension system with three elements, known as three pillars. The first, funded from social security payments, is paid by the state. The second is funded by salary deductions invested in the name of the employee. The third pillar is an optional payment that can be made every year by all employees. All of these payments are tax deductible.
Employers are not responsible for the third pillar, but must make social security payments for the first pillar and second pillar payments if pay exceeds CHF 22,050 a year, equivalent to around 16 hours a week on an hourly wage of CHF 26.50. This limit is rarely reached for domestic cleaners in private employment. There are many different plans and legal minimums. Payments include employer and employee payments, which are deducted from salary payments.
quitt.ch can also set up and administer second pillar pensions.
4. Is an employment contract necessary?
Written employment contracts are not required by law in Switzerland. There are however many reasons for having one. The first is the requirement to present one to Swiss authorities if you need to get a work visa for a non-Swiss citizen. The second is to provide a record of what you agreed should there be a misunderstanding or dispute.
The absence of a contract does not mean the parties can do whatever they want. When there is no contract the Swiss civil code applies. Contracts cannot override mandatory provisions in the Swiss civil code – article 319 of the Swiss civil code in French and German covers employment.
The main things to include in a written contract are: names, tasks, working hours, term, place of work, how the contract can be terminated – notice period etc, salary, salary deductions, sick pay, holidays, insurance, and signatures.
5. What happens if my cleaner is unable to work due to long-term illness?
Once your cleaner has worked for you for three months you are legally required to continue paying them if they fall ill and are unable to work. How much you must pay depends on how long they have worked for you. Swiss law, in French and German, sets out how much must be paid. The amount varies by canton. For example, in Zurich it starts at 3 weeks pay for cleaners employed for less than one year, rising to 17 weeks of pay for those who have worked for you for 11 years.
If you are concerned about the cost and would prefer to avoid the risk, you can take out employers’ sickness insurance. This typically costs less than 1% of salary. Its main advantage is that it extends payments beyond the legal minimum. For example if you have employed a cleaner for less one year you would legally only need to pay them three weeks of pay, if you live in Zurich. After a short stand down period, of say two weeks, sickness insurance would typically pay 80% of their salary for two years. This gives both you and your cleaner peace of mind should something requiring extended time off work occur.
quitt.ch can arrange sick pay insurance.
6. What other risks and what additional insurance should be taken out?
Employee insurance to cover accidents involving personal injury is compulsory. In French this is known as LAA, and in German as UVG. Premiums are a small percentage of salary and it is offered by most Swiss insurance companies.
Another risk for employers includes employee-employer disputes. For example, if your cleaner decides to stop coming to work or makes unrealistic salary demands and then decides to take the issue to court you need to defend yourself. Insurance covering the cost of legal defence can be taken out to reduce the risk of a nasty financial surprise.
In addition, it is worth checking whether your household insurance covers property damage by domestic employees. If it doesn’t, policies covering this risk exist.
As you have probably gathered by now, employing someone in Switzerland is complicated. This means you need to make sure you take on the right person to avoid needing to repeat the process.
Please let us know if you have any questions and we will try to answer them. Good luck!
And if you are interested in a service that takes care of all the admin for you and ensures your cleaner is legally employed click here to find out more about quitt.ch.
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By Phillip Judd and Bernhard Bircher-Suits (quitt.ch)