SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

ZURICH

4,000 francs a month: Zurich set to introduce minimum wage

Switzerland’s largest — and most expensive — city is seeking to introduce a minimum hourly salary from 2024.

4,000 francs a month: Zurich set to introduce minimum wage
There is relief in sight for low-income employees in Zurich. Photo: Pixabay

In 2022, a committee composed of left-wing parties and trade unions submitted to the city council an initiative called “A wage to live,” which called for a minimum hourly wage of 23 francs per hour to be introduced in Zurich.

Municipal councillors countered with an even better proposal last week, upping the amount to an inflation-adjusted minimum wage of 23.90 per hour — 4,000 francs a month. 

This wage is intended mainly for an estimated 17,000 low-income Zurich residents, two-thirds of whom are women.

The minimum salary “will relieve many of those affected by low wages in the city of Zurich – employees at fast food chains, cleaning companies, and those working in retail”, said Oliver Heimgartner from the local Social Democratic Party.

However, there may still be hurdles to overcome before the proposed minimum wage becomes law in Zurich, as it cannot be excluded that right-wing groups, which oppose minimum wages, will launch a referendum on this issue.

“A minimum wage jeopardises jobs and harms the economy,” MP Susanne Brunner from the populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said.

In addition, she pointed out that a municipal minimum wage – that is, one that applies only to the city and not to the entire canton – is a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

If the initiative does go through in Zurich, the city will join five Swiss cantons where minimum wage is already a rule.

Geneva has what has been called the “world’s highest minimum wage” — 24 francs an hour, which was raised from 23 francs in 2020 and 23.27 francs in 2022, to adjust for inflation. 

The Swiss city of Zurich.

The Swiss city of Zurich. Photo by Ilia Bronskiy on Unsplash

Next is Basel-City, which has set its wage at 21 francs an hour, while Neuchâtel and Jura set at 20, and Ticino, at 19.75.

These salaries, negotiated by unions on behalf of workers, reflect the cost of living in each of these regions.

In all these cantons, as elsewhere in Switzerland, most people earn more than the minimum.

Unlike many other countries, Switzerland doesn’t have a nationally mandated minimum wage.

That does not, however, mean that companies are free to pay their workers as much — or as little — as they want.

Instead, the minimum amount is determined through negotiations between employers and unions  — the so-called  collective labour agreement (CLA).

Generally speaking, CLAs cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal. 

CLAs are sector-specific; in other words, they take into account the particular aspects of each branch. As an example, Switzerland’s largest labour union, The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (UNIA), maintains 265 collective agreements in the areas of industry and construction.

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

JOBS

5 jobs you can do in Switzerland without a degree

If you're looking for a job in Switzerland that doesn't require university qualifications or apprenticeship training, there are plenty of options out there. Here's a look at five sectors where jobs are available.

5 jobs you can do in Switzerland without a degree

Whether you’re looking to kickstart the career of your dreams or simply want to get a job quickly, here are five job opportunities you’ll have an easy time securing in Switzerland – even without formal training.

Security

Many renowned Swiss security companies will hire staff without asking for a formal education or apprenticeship and will instead provide new hires with some basic training. Companies, such as Alpha Protect, welcome and value Quereinsteiger (the German word for people who change their careers) who want tojust as much as those with years’ worth of experience in the security field.

If you’re hoping to work security, many corporations will instead insist on the following: a driver’s license; at least a C permit; decent spoken and written language skills for the area of Switzerland you’re in; good PC skills; very good health and physical resilience; and an impeccable reputation topped with orderly financial circumstances.

Salary range: median gross wage is 58,882 Swiss francs per annum including 13th salary.

Caregiver

The shortage of skilled workers is getting worse in Switzerland, with a lack of carers available across the country – but there is one silver lining. From childcare to social therapy residential facilities, many places are in desperate need for caregivers and will now consider those who want to change careers who may not have the required qualifications, but pack the necessary enthusiasm to take on a role in the care sector.

So, if you have very good knowledge of spoken and written German (or one of the other Swiss languages if you are in that area), are quick to comprehend and observe even the most complex situations and consider yourself a resilient, empathic person, a career in the care sector may be a rewarding short – or long-term – fit.

The only downside? You will have to exert a high degree of independence and may have to work irregular hours including weekends.

READ ALSO: What Swiss employers are doing to recruit hard-to-find staff

Two people holding hands.

Becoming a carer is an option in Switzerland. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Salary range: median gross wage is 61,290 francs per annum (with an education) including 13th salary.

Cleaner

Whether you find yourself suddenly out of work and having to score a quick gig, or simply have a love for keeping your surroundings neat and organised, there are a plethora of jobs in cleaning to choose from in Switzerland.

Most cleaning jobs will require you to have a good command of the German language – particularly those in hotels – and be flexible with regard to your working time and location. The good news is, you’ll be able to work fairly independently while still being part of a larger team – talk about the best of both worlds.

Salary: median gross wage is 51,188 per annum including 13th salary. If hired privately, it’s important to note that on January 1st 2023 the Swiss Federal Council adjusted the minimum wages for domestic workers working over 5 hours a week to an hourly rate of CHF 19.50 to 23.55.

Kitchen assistant

Got a flair for cooking or just love trying new recipes? Then applying for one of Switzerland’s many kitchen openings is usually a safe bet. While some companies may ask for prior experience in a professional kitchen, many won’t – and even if you lack the skillset remember you have nothing to lose by applying.

As a general rule of thumb, kitchen jobs in the city will have you working as part of a team and in a customer-oriented manner. Many employers will ask that you can communicate in German but will not have to do so fluently.

Salary: median gross wage is 48,100 per annum including 13th salary.

Waiting staff

The majority of Swiss workers are employed in the service sector, so if you need to find work urgently and are open-minded, searching for a job as a waiter/waitress is arguably the easiest way to go about finding quick employment in Switzerland.

Whether you prefer to work the day shift at an established restaurant in somewhere like Zurich’s Old Town or are keen to work late evenings at a bar or pub, most establishments will ask that you speak German and English with additional languages always welcome. Of course, if you are in another part of Switzerland, you may be required to speak the main language there. 

While upper class restaurants will prefer experienced waiting staff, there is nothing stopping you from working your way up from waiting tables at a casual pop-up bar in the summer, to serving food and drinks at Zurich’s Michelin Star restaurants EquiTable and Geneva’s Le Cigalon.

All you’ll need is a motivated demeanour, a well-groomed appearance, and the ability to service both domestic and international guests.

Salary: median gross wage is 51,170 francs per annum including 13th salary.

SHOW COMMENTS