[Updated Feb. 1, 2023] The Swiss social security system provides benefits in five areas: old age, survivors and disability, health, illness and accidents (work-related and non-work related), maternity and military services leave, unemployment, and family allowances.
Weibel, Hess & Partner
Employee benefits in Switzerland are primarily mandatory, with both employer and employee contributing. Employee perks are very common, with some of the most popular being training and development.
Mandatory Employee Benefits in Switzerland
The Swiss social security system provides benefits in five areas: old age, survivors and disability, health, illness and accidents (work-related and non-work related), maternity and military services leave, unemployment, and family allowances.
The Swiss retirement System is structured as a ‘three-pillar’ system.
Pillar I – Social Security System: The first pillar includes the compulsory federal social security system for old age and survivors’ pension (AHV) and disability pension (IV). The employer and employee equally finance it. The contribution is 10.60% (2023) of the total earnings without any salary ceiling.
Pillar II – Occupational Benefits: The second pillar consists of employer-sponsored pension coverage, including the mandatory pension plan (BVG). The employer must pay at least 50% of the total contributions. Savings contributions range from 7% to 18% of covered pay, depending on age. Many employers provide pension benefits to supplement those paid under the AHV and BVG systems. These voluntary benefits are also considered part of the second pillar.
Pillar III – Voluntary Benefits Provision: The third pillar consists of voluntary individual retirement arrangements.
Social Security (1st Pillar Benefits)
The first pillar of pension coverage is provided by the federal social security system and identified by the acronym AHV. The social security system is intended to provide a basic level of income for most Swiss pensioners. The benefits are payable to all persons reaching the statutory age, 65 for men and 64 for women. All persons having a legal residence, earning their living in Switzerland, or Swiss citizens working abroad for Swiss employers are mandatorily insured. Contributions are paid on total earnings and are shared equally by employer and employee. For a single person, the minimum pension amounts to CHF 14’700 per year and the maximum pension is CHF 29’400 per year. For married couples, the maximum pension is capped at 1.5 times the maximum pension.
Pension Scheme (2nd Pillar Benefits)
The second pillar of the Swiss ‘three pillar’ system consists of voluntary and mandatory employer-sponsored pension coverage. All employers are required to establish and maintain a pension plan for employees (with very few exceptions) under the BVG law. An employee must be covered if he/she is covered under the social security AHV, if he/she is at least 17 years old, and has an annual earning of at least 75% of the maximum annual pension (2023: CHF 22’050). Coverage for retirement pension begins on the 1st of January following the individual’s 24th birthday. Total savings contributions by law for the employer and employee (combined) are shown hereafter.
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The law requires the employer to pay at least 50% of the contributions.
Most employers provide higher benefits than required by the legal minimum.
Social Security (1st Pillar Benefits)
Switzerland’s federal social security system provides survivors benefits that are financed through contributions from all employed persons over age 17 who are covered under the AHV system. The insured surviving spouse and dependent children may be entitled to a survivor’s pension if the deceased contributed to the AHV system for at least one year. A Spouse pension is payable to the widow or widower if certain criteria such as dependent children 18 or younger etc. are fulfilled. The spouse’s pension is equal to 80% of the pensionable salary. The survivor’s pension for each eligible orphan is equal to 40% of the pensionable salary.
Pension Scheme (2nd Pillar Benefits)
The mandatory pension law requires all pension plans to have at least 4% of contributions to provide death and disability insurance. Insured are spouse/partners’ pension as well as orphans’ pension. The pension payable to a surviving spouse is equal to 60% of the accrued old age pension of the deceased, with the service projected without any interest to the normal retirement age. The pension for each eligible orphan is 20%. The surviving spouse or partner’s benefit ceases upon the death or remarriage of the beneficiary. Most employers provide additional coverage.
Survivors pension under UVG/LAA (Accident Insurance)
In the event that a covered employee dies as the result of an accident, the surviving widow/er and any surviving half or full orphan are entitled to survivor’s benefits under UVG Law. The widow/er is entitled to a pension equal to 40% of the pensionable salary (maximum salary per year CHF 148’200). Half orphans and orphans are entitled to a pension equal to 15% and 25% of the pensionable salary. The total orphan’s pension cannot exceed 70% of the pensionable salary.
Short-Term Disability Insurance
The compulsory accident disability coverage provides benefits for short-term disabilities due to an accident until the insured is able to return to work, is declared permanently disabled, or dies. Compulsory accident insurance distinguishes between professional accidents, which are financed by the employer, and non-professional accidents, which are financed by the employee. The daily cash benefit is equal to 80% of the insured salary as of the third day after the accident. The maximum insured salary per year is CHF 148’200. Additional benefits under UVG are medical expenses in the general ward, prescription drugs, and tests, healing aids, and so on. Cash sickness benefits are not a legal requirement but are most common. In the absence of daily sickness insurance, the employer has a salary continuation requirement. Employers are required to pay full salary on sickness leave for at least three weeks during the first year of service and for an appropriate period according to the duration of the employment in subsequent years. The salary continuation requirement can be replaced by a daily group sickness insurance if the insurance coverage is at least 80% of the employee’s salary for two years and the employer finances 50% of the premium.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
Under federal law on general provisions, Switzerland offers sickness and disability benefits to all persons who are insured through either the compulsory or the optional scheme under the old age, survivors, and disability insurance. The benefits are financed through the employer and employee contributions of all employed persons over the age of 17. In the event of a disablement being the result of an accident, benefits may also be payable under the mandatory accident insurance (UVG/LAA) program. The benefits within the accident insurance (UVG/LAA) amount to 80% of the insured salary (up to CHF 148’200 per year). For illnesses, the disability pension from the pension scheme is payable after a period of 360 days if no group sickness insurance is in place, respectively 730 days if a group sickness insurance exists. The disability pension is determined the same way as the survivor’s pension and is capital dependent.
In Switzerland, employers offer various fringe benefits to the staff since the labor market is very competitive. Although the list of common perks is long, the most popular are training and development, as well as senior and service awards:
- Communication benefits – Employers may provide company mobile phones or notebooks to their employees.
- Company Cars – Providing company cars to executive employees becoming rarer as the benefit has proven to be tax ineffective. Instead, car or transportation allowances in the form of a monthly fixed cash benefit are becoming more common.
- Education – Reimbursement of education costs is common in some multinational companies.
- Training and Development – Some companies offer coaching and training.
- Meals – Meal allowances in the form of lunch checks (between CHF 100 – CHF 180 per month), or in the form of cafeterias catering fully or partially subsidized lunch to employees are typical for large companies.
- Senior and Services Awards – Companies typically provide modest discretionary seniority and services cash awards.
- Discounts on company products – In companies that manufacture and/or sell products, providing employees with discounts on those products is typical.
- Flexible work hours / Home Office – It is very common to offer flexible work hours, and working from a home office is getting more popular too.
- Supplementary vacation time or/and sabbaticals.
- Sponsored medical insurance to employees or/and dependents.
Related Government Websites
This information about employee benefits in Switzerland is provided by WHP, Asinta’s employee benefits consulting Partner in Switzerland.