Operating a Business

flag Switzerland Switzerland: Operating a Business

In this page: Legal Forms of Companies | The Active Population in Figures | Working Conditions | The Cost of Labour | Management of Human Resources


Legal Forms of Companies

Private Limited Company (SARL/Gmbh)
Number of partners: Minimum one executive domiciled in Switzerland. No maximum.
Capital (max/min): Minimum CHF 20,000.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited up to the registered capital and not to the amount contributed.
Public Limited Company (AG/SA)
Number of partners: Minimum one executive domiciled in Switzerland. No maximum.
Capital (max/min): Minimum CHF 100,000. When issuing registered shares, 20% of the share capital, but minimum of CHF50,000, has to be paid-in at the time of incorporation.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is limited to the amount contributed.
General Partnership
Number of partners: Minimum 2 partners.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is unlimited.
Limited Partnership
Number of partners: Minimum 2 partners. Two types of partners: active partners and sleeping partners.
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
Shareholders and liability: Liability of active partners is unlimited. Liability of sleeping partners is limited to the amount contributed.
Sole Propietorship
Number of partners: 1 natural person
Capital (max/min): No minimum capital.
Shareholders and liability: Liability is unlimited.

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Switzerland OECD
Procedures (number) 6.00 5.21
Time (days) 10.00 9.47

Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.

The Competent Organisation
Chamber of Notaries in Geneva

Chamber of Notaries in Zürich

Swiss Federation of Notaries

For Further Information
Doing Business: Switzerland, procedures to start a business in Switzerland
Federal Commercial Registry Office
Swiss Commercial Gazette (SHAB)

Financial Information Directories

Dun & Bradstreet - Worldwide directory with financial information on businesses


Recovery Procedures

Bankruptcy proceedings may be initiated by the creditors of a company or by the involved company. In the event of an over-indebtedness (surendettement/Überschuldung) of the company, the board of directors is responsible for the notification of the competent judge, unless there are tangible prospects of a restructuring.

Once the judge has been notified, bankruptcy proceedings are initiated by the court, and the bankruptcy office draws up an inventory and publishes the bankruptcy, requesting any creditors and debtors to file their claims and debts.

Minimum Debt-to-Capital Ratio Triggering Liquidation
There is no minimum debt-to-capital ratio triggering liquidation in Switzerland. Creditors may initiate debt enforcement proceedings (Betreibungsverfahren / procédure de poursuite) by filing a debt collection request (Betreibungsbegehren / réquisition de poursuite) against the debtor with the competent cantonal debt collection office (DCO; Betreibungsamt / office des poursuites). The DCO will then serve a summons for payment (Zahlungsbefehl / commandement de payer) on the debtor.

If the debtor does not file an objection, or after the objection has been validly dismissed by the courts, the creditor may request execution proceedings to be initiated.

Bankruptcy Laws
The insolvency law of Switzerland. It governs insolvency, foreclosure, bankruptcy and debt restructuring proceedings in Switzerland.

It is principally codified in the Federal Statute on Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy (German: Bundesgesetz über Schuldbetreibung und Konkurs, SchKG; French: Loi fédérale sur la poursuite pour dettes et la faillite, LP) of 11 April 1889 (as amended), as well as in ancillary federal and cantonal laws.

Reorganization and Rehabilitation Laws
The Swiss law provides for debt restructuring agreements (Nachlassvertrag / concordat). These are court-mediated or out-of-court settlements between the debtor and his creditors and allow a private or public company - or a sovereign entity - facing cash flow problems and financial distress, to reduce and renegotiate its delinquent debts in order to improve or restore liquidity and rehabilitate so that it can continue its operations.

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The Active Population in Figures

Labour Force 4,953,9684,965,0774,959,300

Source: International Labour Organization - ILOSTAT, Latest data available.

Total activity rate 83.96%84.17%84.21%
Men activity rate 88.50%88.39%88.24%
Women activity rate 79.34%79.87%80.10%

Source: International Labour Organization - ILOSTAT, Latest data available.


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Working Conditions

Opening Hours
  • Legal Weekly Duration
45 hours for technicians and white collar employees; 50 hours for other employees (e.g. building, industry and agriculture).
  • Maximum Duration
50 hours.
  • Night Hours
Between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Working Rest Day
Normally on Sunday. Other arrangements for days off may be made with the employee's consent.
Paid Annual Vacation
A minimum of four weeks. For employees under the age of twenty, the minimum is five weeks annual vacation.
Retirement Age
65 years
Child Labour and Minimum Age For Employment
The minimum age for full-time employment is 18 years. Child labor does not exist in the country. However children above 13 years of age may be employed in light duties for not more than 9 hours (in some cases 15 hours) per week during the school year.
Informal Labour Market
Very much limited in Switzerland.

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The Cost of Labour


Minimum Wage
No national minimum wage exists, but several cantons have adopted their own minimal wage. For example, minimal wage stands at CHF 20.08 per hour in Neuchâtel, CHF 20.28 per hour in Jura and CHF 23.14 per hour in Geneva. The majority of the voluntary collective bargaining agreements contain clauses on minimum compensation, which vary according to the sector and the experience of the worker.
Average Wage
Wages in Switzerland are among the highest in the world. According to the latest figures published by the Federal Statistical Office, in 2020 the gross monthly wage averaged CHF 6,665.
Other Forms of Pay
  • Pay For Overtime
At least 25% extra.
  • Pay For Rest Days Worked
At least 25% extra.
  • Pay For Night Hours
At least 25% extra.
  • Pay For Overtime at Night
At least 25% extra.

Social Security Costs

The Areas Covered
Swiss social security is mandatory and provides for old age and survivors' insurance. Company pension plans that cover unemployment are also mandatory for employees and complement the federal social security programme.
Contributions Paid By the Employer: •    Old-age, survivors’, and disability insurance (5.3%)
•    Unemployment insurance/supplementary unemployment insurance (1.1% / 0.5%)
•    Family compensation fund (1% to 3%)
•    Occupational accident insurance (0.17% to 13.5%)
•    Occupational pension scheme (2nd pillar) (contributions depend on pension plan; the employee’s share is usually half of the total contribution, where the employer bears the other half).
Contributions Paid By the Employee: •    Old-age, survivors’, and disability insurance (5.3%)
•    Unemployment insurance/supplementary unemployment insurance (1.1% / 0.5%)
•    Non-occupational accident insurance (1% to 4%)
•    Occupational pension scheme (2nd pillar) (contributions depend on pension plan; the employee’s share is usually half of the total contribution, where the employer bears the other half).
•    Medical insurance (depending on coverage, private insurance)
Competent Organization
Federal Social Insurance Office (BSV)
Federal Office of Public Health Insurance (FOPH)

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Management of Human Resources



Method of Recruitment
The various methods of recruitment used by companies in Switzerland are:

1. Advertising through newspapers, magazines, internet, etc.

2. Public employment offices Regional Placement Offices (URC).

3.Direct recruitment through educational Institutions.

Recruitment Agencies
Public recruitment agencies : Regional Placement Offices (URC). Private recruitment agencies : Here is a list of private placement agencies.
Recruitment Websites
EURES (The European Job Mobility Portal)

The Contract

Type of Contract
Legal clauses regulate employment contracts and, to a lesser degree, collective agreements and individual negotiations. Under Swiss law, foreign citizens need a residence permit and a work permit to be employed in the country. They are granted at the cantonal level (quotas apply) and approved at the federal level.

The terms of employment contracts are rigid. The legal regime governing the employment relationship in Switzerland is generally more liberal and favourable towards the employer than in many other countries. Permission from the competent authority is needed for the appointment of a foreign employee and the requirements relating to the nationality of employees depend on the type of the company. In case of a stock company, the majority of the members of the board of directors must have Swiss or EU/EFTA country citizenship and must be domiciled in Switzerland, whereas for any other type of company there are no similar restrictions.

Breach of Contracts

  • Retirement
An employment contract may be terminated by mutual agreement by giving notice, in accordance with the employment contract.
  • Dismissals
The dismissal of personnel is subject to strict rules. If an employment contract specifies no specific term, either the employee or the employer may give notice of termination. Generally the legal notice periods are of 1-3 months, depending on the length of the employment relationship.
  • Other Possible Methods
An employer or employee may terminate the contract of employment without notice if such termination is based on a "cause". A party is considered to have a cause when circumstances are such that the party can no longer be expected to continue the employment relationship with loyalty and trust. Whether or not cause exists is a decision made largely at the judge's discretion.
Labour Laws
ILO – National labour law profile
Labour laws in Switzerland
Doing Business: Switzerland, to obtain a summary of labour regulations that apply to local enterprises

Dispute Settlement


Conciliation Process

Cases of Dispute
Dismissal, harassment, conflict over retirement, etc.
Note: The settlement of labour disputes generally falls into two categories: a) individual or private labour law disputes and b) collective labour law disputes.
  • Legal Framework
Swiss Code of Obligations

Law on Labor in Industry, Handicrafts and Trade. 

  • Procedure
The labour disputes can be categorized into 2 types: a) disputes at law and b) disputes over interests. The first encompass all disputes pertaining to the implementation and interpretation of agreements between the two sides. In this connection, the parties may choose between an arbitration procedure and a judicial procedure. In contrast, differences of interest arise during bargaining for a new agreement, and no party may stake a judicial claim.

Various State conciliation bodies have been created for settlement of labour disputes, namely the Federal Conciliation Office and the permanent cantonal conciliation offices. The Federal Office deals only with differences of interest. In contrast, the competence of the permanent cantonal conciliation offices also covers disputes at law. Should conciliation before the conciliation office be unsuccessful, the parties may request it to hand down a binding arbitral award.

Judicial Structures

  • Legal Framework
Swiss Code of Obligations.

Law on Labor in Industry, Handicrafts and Trade.

  • Competent Legal Body
Individual labour law disputes (private disputes) fall within the jurisdiction of civil courts. As a general rule labour law suits in which the amount in dispute is less than CHF 30,000 are subject to a simple and expeditious procedure. One-half of the country’s cantons have set up special courts for labour law disputes. Appeals are heard by cantonal supreme courts, except in the canton de Geneva, where an appellate chamber fulfils this function.

Social Partners

Employer Associations
Union Patronale Suisse - Confederation of Swiss Employers
Economie Suisse - Swiss Federation of Commerce and Industry
Social Dialogue and Involvement of Social Partners
Switzerland does not have strong trade unions. Labour/management relations are good, mostly characterised by a willingness on both sides to settle disputes by negotiations rather than by strikes. The rights to strike is limited for civil servants.
Unionisation Rate
15.7% of wage and salary earners are trade union members as of 2014 (OECD data)
Labour Unions
Regulation Bodies
Switzerland Labour Law Profile
Swiss Managers Union

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Latest Update: April 2024