Social security

Compared to other countries, the Swiss social security system is based more on personal responsibilities. This means that the national insurance contributions deducted directly from the salary of employees are less onerous than in other European countries.

National insurance contributions are paid in equal parts by the employer and the employee by means of a compulsory deduction from gross salary.

Pension, unemployment, accident/sickness

The compulsory national insurance contributions for a salaried employee are:

  • Pension and disability insurance, and income replacement scheme (AVS/AI/APG)
  • Occupational pension plan (LPP)
  • Unemployment insurance (AC)
  • Professional accident insurance (LAA)
  • Health insurance (LAMal)

The vast majority of the compulsory insurance schemes are underwritten by the employer, who is required to provide some of the finance. For expatriates, Switzerland has signed agreements with several European and North American countries to ensure that employees remain covered by national insurance schemes in their country of origin, if they desire. In case of doubt, you should consult your employer's HR department.

The only compulsory schemes for the self-employed are AVS/AI/APG and statutory health insurance.

The pension system in Switzerland is based on three pillars: AVS (first pillar), which is compulsory and universal; the second pillar, which is a compulsory add-on to the AVS for employees, to which the employee and the employer make equal contributions; and the third pillar, which is private and non-compulsory.

For more details, see "National insurance".

Family, birth and maternity benefits

Swiss companies are required to provide both family and maternity benefits.

Benefits for children aged 0 to 16 are paid to people working for companies with their head office or branch office in the canton of Vaud. They are not included in the salary and are proportional to the number of hours worked. Since January 1, 2007, single-parent families receive full benefits for each child when the parent works at least 50% of the time. They may be paid by the Caisse Générale social security fund or other official funds. Starting from January 1, 2007, the amount of benefit for each child is CHF 180

Birth allowances are paid when a birth is recorded in the civil register in Switzerland. The birth allowance amounts to CHF 1,500, and is doubled in the case of multiple births.

Family benefits are paid as soon as the family comprises more than two children. They are not included in the salary and are proportional to the number of hours worked. They are paid by the Caisse Générale social security fund or other official funds. Starting January 1, 2007, family benefit amounts to CHF 170 from the third child.

Maternity benefits and supplementary benefits. Maternity benefits are granted to women domiciled in the canton for at least six months at the moment of birth, adoption or collection with a view to adopting a child aged less than one, and whose financial resources are below the limits set by the cantonal legislation regarding supplementary benefits to AVS-AI. Maternity benefits and supplementary benefits are normally paid for a period of six months.

  • For more information, please contact:
    Caisse Générale d'Allocations
    Rue du Lac 37, CH-1815 Clarens
    Phone: +41 (0)21 964-1211

See also the relevant pages of the Social Guide for French-speaking Switzerland (in French)