At Work in Geneva


Social Security in Geneva


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Foreign nationals wishing to work in Switzerland must obtain an authorisation (see our section visa regarding the different residence permits). The employer will have to submit a demand before the Canton department where the business is based. The Police for foreigners and cantonal services for labour market deal with the authorisation request. The website of the Office fédéral des migrations provide information on the labour market and the list of services to contact.

In addition, following the agreements between Switzerland and other European Union states, social security conventions existing between Switzerland and other EU member states have been replaced by the agreement on free movement of persons.

Swiss welfare system

The Swiss welfare system is based on the system of three pillars (Art. 111 of the Feral Constitution) that guarantee your personal and professional security, in addition to your next of kin in case of retirement, disability and death.

  • 1st pillar: State welfare system (garantee of a minimum allowance)
  • 2nd pillar: Professional welfare (maintain the level of living)
  • 3rd pillar: Private insurance

1st pillar

It is mandatory, managed by the State and based on AVS (Assurance Vieillesse et Survivants - old age and survival insurance), AI (Assurance Invalidité - disability insurance) and additional benefits (prestations complémentaires - PC). For more information on those systems, you can consult our article on pensions. Its financing is based on distribution (active people pay for pensioners). The Confederation, the cantons, the VAT, the tax on alcohol and tabacco contributs also to financing the AVS, AI and PC.

2nd pillar

It is also mandatory (only for people working in Switzerland and earning an annual salary of at least 25 320 CHF - 01/01/03), but is set as a professional welfare system. It is based on two laws:

  • LPP (federal law on professional welfare for elderly people, disabled persons and survivals)
  • LAA (federal law on insurance for accidents)

This is a system of capital saving that maintains your standard of living for you and your next of kin in case of elderly age, disabitlity and survivals, linked with the first pillar.

3rd pillar

This last pillar is optional and is for private needs: it intends to complete the cover of the 1st and 2nd pillars, and for tax optimisation purposes (it is possible to deduct the monthly payment from your taxable income). This is a saving system.


Update 13/05/2011

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