One in eight workers in Switzerland are ‘low-income earners’

A total of 12 percent of full-time employees in Switzerland had an income of less than 4,335 Swiss francs (€3,900) a month in 2016, making them low-income earners, according to new figures from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office (FSO).

One in eight workers in Switzerland are 'low-income earners'
Swiss streets are not paved with gold. File photo: Depositphotos

While that percentage is slightly down from the 12.8 percent figure clocked up in 2008, there were still 473,000 people working in so-called low-paid jobs in the expensive Alpine nation in 2016.

Read also: Three Swiss cities named Europe's priciest for foreign workers

The FSO classifies all jobs where people work full time and earn less than two thirds of the median Swiss salary as ‘low income’. In 2016, the cut-off was 4,335 francs.

The sectors with the highest percentage of low-paying jobs were retail and hospitality (including gastronomy and accommodation).

Women (17 percent) were more than twice as likely as men (7.2 percent) to have low-income salaries.

Foreigners make up majority of low-income earners

Foreigners also made a huge proportion of this group, occupying 53.8 percent of all low-paid jobs in the country in 2016 although they made up just 32.9 percent of the total workforce.

A total of 19.1 percent of foreign workers in Switzerland were low-income earners, compared to 8.9 percent of people with a Swiss passport.

However, another recent set of Swiss government figures suggested there was little difference between the wages of foreign workers in Switzerland and the resident population.

That study into the impact of the Swiss–EU freedom of movement treaty on Switzerland also revealed that some groups of foreign workers actually earn more than Swiss citizens and the country’s permanent residents.

Read also: Confirmed – Swiss companies can still hire Brits after no-deal Brexit

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland