At Work in Zurich

Social Security in Zurich

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Switzerland has a network of services that provide for it's people. This includes people living and working there and their dependents.

    The System is divided into five areas:
  • Old-age, survivors' and invalidity insurance (three-pillar system)
  • Protection against the consequences of illness and accidents
  • Income compensation allowances in case of service and in case of maternity
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Family allowances

The countries in the European Union and European Economic Area has an agreement to ensure international employees retain their social security rights and benefits. The provisions ensure that no employee is disadvantaged because he worked in several Member States during the course of his working life. Social insurance contributions should not be lost, rights which have been acquired should be protected, and each country should pay the pension which corresponds to the insurance periods spent there.


Switzerland divides responsibilities between federal and cantonal authorities, making costs and organizations of insurance vary between cantons. The Federal Office for Social Insurance broadly oversees the system.

The Swiss social insurance schemes are in general funded by contributions from insured persons; with contributions determined by income or wealth. Employers contribute to the funding of all types of insurance except health insurance. Public bodies too contribute to the funding of social insurance, except for accident insurance and occupational benefit schemes.

All Swiss residents must be covered by compulsory basic sickness insurance. Old-age and survivors' insurance and Invalidity insurance are compulsory for anyone in paid employment, as well as all unemployed people over 20. Family allowances, accident insurance and occupational pension insurance are only obligatory for salaried workers.

Claiming Benefits

Applications for benefits should be made in writing to the relevant insurance funds – sickness insurance companies, accident insurance funds, occupational pension funds and compensation/invalidity funds. For certain benefits, a doctor's certificate or a medical diagnosis must be provided.

Sickness Insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for all Swiss residents. Daily-allowance sickness insurance is optional. Under employment contract law, employers are required to continue to pay wages and salaries for a limited period if an employee falls ill, usually three weeks in the first year of employment and thereafter a longer period which varies according to the canton where the work is performed. Collective labor agreements often provide for more favorable terms.

Family & Maternity Leave

Family Allowance

Family allowances supports and promotes the family. Responsibility for all areas of family policy is designated to the cantons and municipalities

  • Family allowance of at least CHF 200 for children up to the age of 16
  • Education allowance of at least CHF 250 for 16-25 year-olds who are being educated

Maternity Benefits

The compulsory health insurance scheme offers access to exams during and after pregnancy, delivery, advice on feeding, and care and in-hospital services for a healthy newborn while hospitalized with its mother. Mothers are not required to contribute to the cost of these services.

The loss-of-earnings insurance scheme ensures that all women engaged in gainful activity (whether employed or self-employed) receive a maternity allowance of 80 percent of their last income, subject to a ceiling of CHF 196 per day, for 14 weeks after the birth. To qualify, a woman must have been insured for not less than nine months preceding the birth and must have been engaged in gainful activity for at least five months during this period.

Update 18/08/2011


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