The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, but workers also earn among the highest salaries.

This content was published on November 3, 2022 - 17:02

Salaries in Switzerland are paid once a month and are often based on a 13-month system. That means an annual salary is paid out in 13 instalments: one a month until the end of the year when a worker receives two instalments. Working less than a full year means the 13th month payment is typically paid on a pro-rata basis. It is not the same as a bonus.

There is no national minimum wage in Switzerland, although some cantons and industries have set a lowest limit. Gross salary is usually negotiated during the job interview, before a contract is signed. It represents the amount of money to be earned before deduction of sums for compulsory social contributions.

The following deductions are made from the employee’s income (net salary) before it is paid:

- old-age and survivors’ insurance (the first “pillar” of the old-age pension scheme)

- occupational pension provision (the second “pillar” of the old-age pension scheme)

- disability insurance

- income loss insurance

- unemployment insurance

- non-occupational accident insurance

The amounts deducted may vary depending on the canton and the employee’s age, salary and employment rate. Employers also contribute to these social insurance payments.

After taking home their wages, most employees will still have to pay two mandatory contributions: taxes and health insurance.

Salary Levels

The median gross salary in Switzerland is CHF6,500 ($6,700) a month. However, a female machine operator earns around CHF4,500 a month, while a male manager nets over CHF10,000.

There is still a marked gender wage gap in Switzerland: woman earn on average 11.5% less than men. This inequality is even greater at the managerial level – even though equal pay is enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Gender Equality Act.

In international comparison, Switzerland has one of the highest average salaries among OECD countries. However, the cost of living is also particularly high: taxes, housing, transport and health insurance eat up a large part of that income. Nonetheless, Swiss households have among the highest purchasing power in Europe.

The high cost of living in Switzerland puts people with low incomes at a particular disadvantage. Statistics show that households with a gross monthly salary of less than CHF5,000 can’t set aside any savings. Moreover, living costs tend to increase while wages stagnate, which puts a strain on low-paid workers, who make up some 12% of the economically active population.

For more information on salaries in Switzerland, see:

- Wage calculator from the State Secretariat for Economic AffairsExternal link

- Wage levels by economic sectors from the Federal Office of StatisticsExternal link

- International comparison of wage levels by the OECDExternal link

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