WORKING IN SWITZERLAND
THERE ARE A LOT OF GOOD REASONS TO COME AND WORK IN SWITZERLAND
Switzerland is a beautiful country with great diversity in its geography and culture. The main landscapes are the Jura mountains, a limestone range stretching from Lake Geneva to the Rhine, the Plateau stretching from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance and 200 km of the Alps with 48 mountains over 4’000 m.
Most of the 7.7 million inhabitants, including 20% foreigners, live and work on the Plateau. The work force is highly qualified and performs highly skilled work in sectors such as microtechnology, hitech, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, banking and insurance.
There are four official languages and a multitude of dialects in Switzerland: German (63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%) and Romansh (0.5%). 8.9% of the population have another mother tongue.
The abbreviation CH stands for Confederation Helvetica. The Swiss confederation is made up of 26 cantons which enjoy quite a lot of political and administrative independence. They decide about their education system and their social services, they each have their own police force and set their own level of taxation.
When coming to live and work in Switzerland you need to take into account the diversity of the country and of its many rules and regulations. For example:
- Everybody resident in Switzerland must take out Swiss health insurance.
- In order to work, you may need a Swiss work permit (i.e. if you are not a citizen of the old EU/EFTA Member States, Cyprus or Malta) and a residence permit.
- Taxes will have to be paid to the Commune you reside in, the Canton and the Confederation.
- Everybody living in Switzerland must by law have certain levels of personal insurance.
- All providers of services in Switzerland must have a valid Swiss labour leasing licence.
HOW SHOULD YOU ORGANISE SWISS HEALTH COVER?
Within Switzerland there is no National Health service as you would find in many other European countries. It is a fully privatised system.
Therefore, when moving to Switzerland as a foreign worker it is a legal requirement for you and your family to take out Swiss private medical insurance.
There are a large number of companies and policies to choose between but to assist you with that choice we would advise you to look at the website www.comparis.ch. The website is in all of the major Swiss languages plus English.
The standard of medical care in Switzerland is extremely high and in the Annual Consumer Health care index, 2008 Switzerland was ranked in the top ten. Within the system you can choose between taking out the basic cover up to 5 star luxury cover in a private clinic where you can choose your own doctors. Obviously the higher up the scale you go the more the cost increases. Other factors which affect the cost are the amount of your excess, your age and the canton that you are living in.
Accident insurance is also a legal requirement in Switzerland however most employees will find that this is taken out as part of their employment and therefore they only need to take it out for family members.
WORK AND RESIDENCE PERMITS
AS SWITZERLAND IS NOT AN EU MEMBER COUNTRY FIND OUT ABOUT THE WORK AND RESIDENCE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS
Although Switzerland is not a full member of the EU it has signed up to the EU social charter and therefore since 2002 working in Switzerland has become easier for EU nationals.
Upon securing employement in Switzerland your employer will apply for a permit on your behalf and for all EU nationals, including the 10 new member states this is an automatic process. Workers can now start work immediately although they will have to have applied for the work and residence permit which is still a legal requirement.
The type of permit in Switzerland depends upon the length of your stay or more importantly your intention to stay. For short term contracts an L permit will be issued. For longer term contracts a B permit is issued. Once you have been resident in Switzerland with a valid permit for a period of 5 years you will then be issued with a C permit.
For jobseekers from outside of the EU your employer would have to apply for a permit on your behalf, and you would not be able to start work until the work and residence permit has been issued. Unfortunately due to the expansion of the EU getting work permits for Non EU personel has become much more difficult and the employer would have to prove that the position has not only be advertised in Switzerland (without success) but also that there are no people available within the EU with the same skills.
INSURANCE AND PENSIONS
Health Insurance – Mandatory for all employees and residents in Switzerland, for more information see our article on Medical
Accident Insurance – Individuals who are not employed take out accident insurance together with their health insurance. Employees on the other hand are insured for accidents in the workplace according to the provisions of the LAA (the law concerning accident insurance) by their employer. Contributions for occupational accident cover are chargeble to the employer on a monthly basis from the salary. Contributions for non-occupational accident cover are deducted by the employer on a monthly basis from the salary
Third Party liability Insurance (RC) – If you either rent an apartment, buy a house or drive a car then it is a legal requirement to take out this insurance and when renting a property in Switzerland proof of cover will be required by all agencies.
Within Switzerland the pension system is broken down into 3 parts, termed 3 pillars.
1st pillar is a mandatory state pension scheme and contributions are income-dependent. Once you have contributed for 12 months you will be entitled to a partial state pension from Switzerland when you reach retirement age.
2nd pillar is a mandatory company pension scheme and contributions are income- and age-dependent.. The capital can be transferred to a foreign pension plan, upon permanent departure from Switzerland, or used to start a business or buy a principal residence in Switzerland or the EU. You may also make additional contributions as a tax-saving measure. While there is a legal mandatory requirement for your employer to deduct at source the money is paid into a private not state policy by your employer
3rd pillar is an optional top-up personal pension plan, available from banks and insurance companies, which has some tax advantages. Up to a certain level, the amount paid in reduces your annual taxable income base, therefore making it extremely tax efficient.
PLEASE FIND HERE A SHORT SUMMARY OF THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED BY CONSULTANTS MOVING TO SWITZERLAND
Yes, the Swiss law on health insurance (LAMal) states that you must have Swiss health insurance for the duration of your assignment in Switzerland.
The premiums depend on the level of cover and, among other things, the excess that you choose but start around CHF 200 per month.
In our experience, most Swiss communes will not accept foreign private health cover.
For non-EU nationals it is much more difficult to obtain a work visa. In most cases, only the company for whom you will work will be able to obtain one for you and then only if you are directly employed by them.
- The tax structure in Switzerland is extremely complex and depends not only on your personal situation (marital status, etc.), but also on where you are living (Zug and Schwyz are often quoted as the cheapest cantons to live in, while Geneva and Neuchâtel are quite expensive).
- Typical costs for tax and social security vary between 30% and 40%.
As we are not present all over Switzerland, we will not assist you in finding accommodation. Local contacts or letting agents may be able to help.
The Swiss pension structure is made up of three “pillars”:
- 1st pillar is a mandatory state pension scheme and contributions are income-dependent. Once you have contributed for 12 months you will be entitled to a partial state pension from Switzerland when you reach retirement age.
- 2nd pillar is a mandatory company pension scheme and contributions are income- and age-dependent.. The capital can be transferred to a foreign pension plan, upon permanent departure from Switzerland, or used to start a business or buy a principal residence in Switzerland or the EU. You may also make additional contributions as a tax-saving measure.
- 3rd pillar is an optional top-up personal pension plan, available from banks and insurance companies, which has some tax advantages.
You should normally register within 8 days of arrival. When you sign up with Sigma, we will talk you through every step of the process as this can change from commune to commune. We will let you know exactly where to go, when to go there, and what to take with you!
As a short-term resident, you will be taxed at source (similar to UK PAYE). We will handle all tax and social security contributions for you and provide you with detailed monthly salary statements.
If you have a work and residence permit your family may join you in Switzerland. Each family member must register and obtain a resident permit.
FORMS AND DOWNLOADS
HERE YOU CAN FIND SOME OF THE COMMON FORMS AND DOCUMENTS THAT OUR CUSTOMERS REQUIRE
OUR WAY OF SAYING 'THANK YOU'
SIGMA KNOWS THE VALUE OF A REFERRAL AND AN EXCELLENT CONTRACTOR IS LIKELY TO KNOW ANOTHER WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM WORKING WITH US.
This is why we put in place our contractor referral scheme, which gives us the opportunity to thank our contractors who are actively spreading the word about Sigma and our services.
If you are a contractor and put a friend or colleague in touch with our team, please ask them to mention your name at the time of contacting us. Alternatively, you can contact us on their behalf.
Once the contractor has signed up with us and we have processed their first timesheet, you will be able to choose from the following gifts.
CARAN D'ACHE FOUNTAIN OR BALLPOINT PEN
This Swiss-made Ecridor Chevron fountain pen is an indisputable classic with its diamond engraved chevrons and palladium-coated finish.
CASE OF WINE
We will send you twelve bottles of specially selected wine; you choose between red, white and rosé, or request a mixed case.
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