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Salaries, Insurance & Taxes

Health insurance in Switzerland

All residents of Switzerland are legally obligated to take out health insurance. There are many different health insurance companies to choose from. None of them can refuse you basic insurance with minimum coverage. Beyond minimum coverage, however, every health insurance company offers optional additional modules ranging from alternative medicine to dentures.

You are basically entitled to see a doctor of your choice. Depending on your health insurer and your plan, you might be allowed to freely choose a hospital in your canton of residence or even beyond. It is best to ask your health insurer. Dental treatments are usually not covered by standard Swiss health insurance. Many people take out complementary private dental insurance. As regards medication, you will receive your meds either directly at the doctor’s office or from a pharmacy against a prescription. This will depend on your doctor.

The health insurance premiums are usually paid by you directly. They are not deducted from your salary and transferred by your employer, as is the case with other insurance premiums. The monthly premium varies depending on many factors, e.g. the amount of excess you choose. Many health insurance companies also offer special policies such as the so-called "family doctor policy", which helps you save on your premium. Aside from shopping around for the best deal (e.g. via Comparis, an online platform), it is often also helpful to ask your employer or colleagues for a recommendation.

Salary and social security in the Swiss hospitality industry

The Swiss hotel and restaurant industry is subject to the so-called L-GAV, a collective bargaining agreement which regulates the rights and obligations of employers and employees in the Swiss hotels and restaurants on a federal level.

Social insurance contributions in Switzerland

The following compulsory contributions to the social insurance system are deducted from everyone’s gross salary:

  • Old age and survivor’s insurance ("Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung" – AHV)
  • Disability insurance ("Invalidenversicherung" – IV)
  • Income compensation insurance ("Erwerbsersatzversicherung" – EO)
  • Unemployment insurance ("Arbeitslosenversicherung" – ALV)
  • Professional pension fund ("Berufliche Vorsorge" – BVG), only if the annual salary is above the threshold
  • Insurance for non-work related accidents ("Nichtbetriebsunfallversicherung" -NBU)

Overall, between 13% and 20% of your gross salary is paid into the social insurance system, with your employer paying almost the same amount in contributions for you, the exception being the accident insurance. Furthermore, withholding tax is deducted directly from the salaries of employees with residence permits; and so are the health insurance premiums in rare cases.

Taxes in Switzerland: withholding tax

As a foreign resident with residence permit type B you have to pay withholding tax ("Quellensteuer"). It is based on your gross salary and withheld from your salary directly at the source. Your employer pays it to the authorities. The amount varies by canton and can change once a year. You can claim extraordinary personal expenses through the annual tax return. With this online tax calculator you can easily find out what your withholding tax will be. The Swiss Federal Tax Administration provides all the relevant information about all aspects of taxation.

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