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Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news

Find out everything you need to know about working in Switzerland with The Local's weekly roundup of jobs news.

Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news
IT jobs are in high demand in Switzerland. Photo by Photo by cottonbro from Pexels Copy

Starting in August 2021, The Local will bring you weekly updates on everything related to jobs and working in Switzerland. 

This includes trends, reader feedback and relevant laws that you need to know about when working in Switzerland. 

Statistics: Unemployment highest in French-speaking cantons

At the end of July 2021, the overall rate stood at a relatively low 2.8 percent, but some cantons did better than others on the job front, according to figures released this week by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

As the SECO map below indicates, at 4.9 and 4.8 percent respectively, Geneva and Jura have higher-than-average joblessness, while unemployment rate in central and eastern cantons falls below 2 percent.

The highest rate is among young people up to 24 years of age (+3.7 percent), while unemployment among those between 50 and 64 has declined by 3.2 percent, according to SECO.

Unemployment highest among foreigners

The same SECO statistics show that while the jobless rate for the Swiss is 2 percent, it jumps to 4.8 percent among foreign nationals.

For the EU nationals employed in Switzerland, it is the highest for Eastern Europeans: 10.6 percent for citizens of Bulgaria, followed by Romanians (8.8 percent), and people from Slovakia (6.5 percent).

For those outside the EU, unemployment is highest for people from the Balkans: 7.8 percent for those from Kosovo and 7.1 percent for Macedonians.

The lowest unemployment among the non-EU group is among British citizens: 3.7 percent.

READ MORE: How can I have my foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland?

Teleworking more popular among Swiss employees

Working from home, a practice which took hold during the pandemic, is seen favourably by most employees in Switzerland

According to a survey carried out by the GFS Institute, 89 percent of employees questioned believe that teleworking should be allowed in their company, in addition to on-site activity.

And 79 percent want to continue this system after the pandemic, while only 6 percent reject this option.

This preference is not one-sided: several large Swiss companies have decided to give their employees more flexibility in the organisation of working time to offer them a better work-life balance.

Among them are UBS and Credit Suisse banks, according to the survey.

READ MORE: ‘Home office’: Will the pandemic change the way Switzerland works?

Digital professions remain in high demand

Highly skilled computer workforce is scarce in Switzerland, but the demand for these services is high.

“It is currently almost impossible to find a mobile app developer”, Daniel Kaempf , co-founder and director of Darwin Digital, said in an interview.

To fill the gap, he believes that all sectors leading to digital transformation professions should be strengthened in Switzerland, which, for the time being, are limited and the career path is complex.

“At the moment, the best course is an engineering degree from a federal polytechnic or a university of applied sciences. Then, you have to supplement your knowledge with online training. And above all, you have to gain practice by working”, he said.

Did you know? Switzerland does not have a minimum wage

When compared to its European neighbours – or countries globally – Switzerland is known for its high salaries in almost all industry types.

Therefore, it is perhaps surprising to find out that the country does not have an officially mandated minimum hourly wage. 

After being first implemented in New Zealand and Australia in the 1890s, minimum wage laws have spread across the world. Most European countries have now put in place some form of minimum wage limit. 

In Switzerland, this has been done at a cantonal level, with five cantons now putting in place a minimum wage: Basel City, Ticino, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Jura. 

Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, is also considering putting in place a minimum wage. 

READ MORE: Will Zurich introduce a minimum wage?

That does not however mean that your employer is free to pay you as much – or as little – as he or she wants. Instead, the minimum amount you can be paid will be determined through negotiations with your employer which will may feature a trade union representative. 

Whether this be an hourly amount or one which is set for full or part-time hours, setting a minimum standard in specific industries is a common way to ensure workers aren’t underpaid or unpaid. 

More information about the minimum wage in Switzerland can be found at the following link. 

Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know

Useful links

Looking for a job in Switzerland or just want a little more information about working here, then check out the following links. 

The jobs roundup is new addition and we’d welcome any feedback or suggestions for areas it should cover. Please email us at [email protected]

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What you should know if you want to become an au pair in Switzerland

Thinking of working for a Swiss family as an au pair? From contracts to the length of stay, here are 10 tips to consider before you embark on an Alpine work adventure.

What you should know if you want to become an au pair in Switzerland

Working as an au pair in Switzerland can be an amazing life experience to learn all about another culture, build language skills and earn money. 

But to ensure it all goes smoothly – and so you get to enjoy the Swiss Alpine views often instead of worrying about your employment or losing money – you should keep a few things in mind. 

Here are 10 tips to consider when you want to become an au pair in Switzerland.

1. Sign an au-pair contract

If you want to work as an au pair in Switzerland, the first step is to check you qualify (more on that below) and to look for a suitable host family. The best way to do this is to use the services of one of the numerous au pair placement agencies, such as this one. Once you’ve found a suitable placement, you and your host family should sign an agreement.

The au pair contract should contain all the essential details: there should be detailed information on the duration of your stay, working hours and holidays, type of accommodation, language courses and pocket money (called “Sackgeld” in Switzerland).

The cantonal “Normalarbeitsvertrag für hauswirtschaftliche Arbeitnehmer” (standard employment contract for domestic workers) is a must for your employment conditions as an au pair. One copy goes to the host family, one to the labour market authority and one to you as the au pair. points out that a permit also has to be approved by both the canton and federal authorities before employment can start.

“A permit can take a good two months,” said the advice website, adding that people should apply as early as possible. 

READ ALSO: The pros and cons of working as an au pair in Switzerland 

2. Keep an eye on insurance 

Employment as an au pair is the equivalent to a regular employment relationship. As an au pair, you are obliged to pay social insurance contributions (AHV, IV, EO, ALV) from the age of 18 and must pay half of the costs incurred. These social security contributions are automatically deducted from your au pair’s salary – whereby the sum of pocket money and wages in-kind serves as the basis for calculation here. In order for this to be possible, your host family must apply for an insurance certificate from the social security office of the canton of residence.

When it comes to accident insurance, your host family has to pay for the so-called company accident insurance (BU), while the non-company accident insurance (NBU) is covered by you as an au pair. However, it is also possible that the host family will voluntarily pay the NBU premiums for you. Check all this out so you have an idea of what to expect.

READ ALSO: How to understand your Swiss payslip 

A child plays with toys behind a white curtain

Many people choose to become an au pair in Switzerland. Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

3. Take out health insurance

For stays of three months or longer, you must be insured with a Swiss health insurance company or an equivalent alternative. At least half of the health insurance premiums must be financed by the host family. You can find reasonably priced basic health insurance on comparison websites to grab a good deal.

You should also check out alternative health insurance cover that is available for students if you are studying. These are often much cheaper than standard health insurance.

4. Don’t stay too long

An au pair can generally stay in Switzerland for up to 12 months. Au pairs from EU and EFTA countries can extend their stay to a maximum of 24 months. There are also restrictions regarding age: Au pairs from EU and EFTA countries have to be between 17 and 30 years old. For all other countries, the maximum age is 25.

5. Discuss your work tasks in advance

As a live-in nanny, your main task will be taking care of the children. You can also help out in the host parents’ household, however, you are only allowed to do light housework. In return, as an au pair you are entitled to free board and lodging, in the form of your own room, and pocket money. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, you should discuss your role and tasks with your future host family in advance.

6. Check the pocket money allowance

In Switzerland, au pairs are paid pocket money (“Sackgeld”) as well as a lump sum in the form of board and lodging. The pocket money depends on age and canton and is usually between 500 and 800 Swiss francs per month. If au pairs fall ill or have an accident, they are entitled to still receive payment. This also applies to holidays and public holidays.

7. Complete a language course

As an au pair you have to complete a language course in the language of your place of residence. German is the main language in German-speaking Switzerland, French in French-speaking Switzerland and Italian in Ticino. For a stay of one year, a language course must be at least 120 hours, i.e. three hours per week. Your host family has to pay for the course fees.

You can get to the language course either by public transport at the host family’s expense or by car, which should be driven by one of your hosts or they can let you drive (if you have a valid driving licence).

A person studying

Learning languages can be tricky in Switzerland. Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

8. Don’t work too much

As an au pair, you are allowed to work a maximum of 30 hours per week. The working hours must be arranged so that you can take that language course. Plus the host family have to give you at least one day off per week.

The holiday entitlement depends on your age. Au pairs are entitled to five weeks of holiday per year up to the age of 20, and four weeks of holiday after that. Working on holidays is only allowed in exceptional cases.

9. Think about your bank accounts

If it’s a shorter stay, it’s not absolutely necessary to open a Swiss bank account. You don’t need a Swiss credit card either. You can pay with debit cards practically everywhere in Switzerland. 

But if you want to open a Swiss account – perhaps if you are in Switzerland for a longer period of time – search for a cheaper account. Swiss banks usually offer special rates for young people and people in education. However, keep in mind that some Swiss banks do not accept clients who are only resident in Switzerland for a short time.

If you hit some hurdles getting accepted, so-called “neo banks” like Wise and N26 could be a good fall-back option. 

Remember: if you have a Swiss bank account and leave Switzerland again, you may have to close your account. If you keep the account, you will have to pay high fees due to being a client who does not reside in Switzerland. Keep all this in mind! 

10. Keep an eye on your outgoings

Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. To make sure you don’t use up all your pocket money on everyday errands straight away, try and budget and keep your outgoings down when possible. Check out this article on saving money in Switzerland for ideas: