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Living and working conditions

Switzerland

GENERAL INFORMATION

Area - 41,285  km2

Population – 8,570,146

Official Language – German, French, Italian, Romansh

REGISTRATION AND RESIDENCE PERMITS

Since 1 June 2016, the nationals of all EU-27/EFTA states, i.e. the nationals of EU-25/EFTA (EU17/EFTA plus EU-8) and the nationals of Bulgaria and Romania (EU-2), have been subject to the same conditions.

The Federal Council activated the safeguard clause in respect of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals with effect from 1 June 2017. As part of this safeguard clause, the quota system for category B EU/EFTA residence permits was reintroduced for 1 year. This measure applies to nationals from the EU-2 who possess an employment contract in Switzerland that is valid for more than 1 year (or has unlimited duration) or who establish themselves in Switzerland as self-employed persons. On 18 April 2018, the Federal Council decided to extend the safeguard clause to 31 May 2019.

Since 1 January 2017, Croatian nationals have also benefited from free movement. However, they are subject to transitional provisions.

You will find the documents relevant to your stay, according to nationality, at the following link: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/it/home/themen/fza_schweiz-eu-efta/eu-efta_buerger_schweiz.html 

LOOKING FOR A JOB

If you are seeking employment before moving to Switzerland, we recommend that you consult the EURES advisers in your own country. If you are already in Switzerland, you can register free of charge with your local Regional Placement Office (RAV/ORP/URC).

Most vacancies in Switzerland are advertised on the internet. Various websites offer targeted job-seeking by area of activity (e.g. building, catering, healthcare services, information technology, etc.). Another option is to register with a private employment agency.
The services provided by these agencies are normally free of charge for jobseekers; if you are given a contract of employment, your employer will be asked to cover the cost of the service.

In Switzerland, vacancies are very often advertised in special supplements in the main daily newspapers too. The best known supplements are: Emploi&Formation, published by Le Temps in Geneva, Emploi, published by 24Heures in Lausanne, Stellefant, published by the Basler Zeitung, Stellenmarkt, published in Bund and in the Berner Zeitung, Stellen-Anzeiger and NZZ Executive, which appear in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Alpha, which can be found in the Zurich-based Tages-Anzeiger and SonntagsZeitung and in the Corriere del Ticino.

INCOMES AND TAXATION

Incomes vary depending on the industry, level of training and canton. The social security deductions include contributions to the old-age and survivors’ insurance schemes, invalidity, unemployment and loss-of-earnings insurance schemes, and to occupational benefit schemes, etc. They do not however include compulsory health-insurance contributions as these are not income-dependent but vary according to the insurance company, place of residence and selected cover.

In Switzerland, income tax is levied both by the Confederation (direct federal tax) and by the cantons and municipalities (cantonal and local taxes). Since each of the 26 Swiss cantons has its own tax legislation, tax rates vary between cantons. As a rule, taxpayers must file an annual tax return.
The relevant tax factors (income and assets) and the amount of tax payable are determined on the basis of this return. Apart from income tax, which is normally deducted at source for EU and EFTA nationals, another major tax is value-added tax (VAT), which is currently (2018) charged at 7.7% and is applied to most goods and services. Other taxes levied in Switzerland include property tax, vehicle tax, the annual motorway sticker (vignette) charge and others.

COST OF LIVING

The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the average disposable income for private households in Switzerland was CHF 7 124 per month in 2016.

The main household expenses include insurance, such as health insurance (6.2%), and the contributions for old-age pension (AVS) and to the pension fund (9.7%). Other major expense items are housing and utilities (14.7%), taxes (11.5%), food and drink (6.3%), restaurants (5.8%), and leisure and cultural activities (5.4%).

In 2016, after deducting all these expenses, private households had on average CHF 1 551 left at the end of every month, or 15.5% of their gross household income. Households in the lowest income bracket, with a gross monthly income of less than CHF 5 000, were left on average with no income for savings.

Source: Federal Statistical Office

Text last edited on: 05/2019

EDUCATION SYSTEM

The characteristic feature of the Swiss education system is its diversity, each of the 26 cantons being responsible for all aspects of education in its territory. Lessons are taught in German, French, Italian or Romansh, depending on the language region. Language learning has traditionally been considered very important in Switzerland. During compulsory schooling, all pupils usually study two foreign languages, namely a second national language and English.

Compulsory schooling lasts for 11 years and includes a primary and a secondary cycle (secondary level I) in all cantons. Attendance is compulsory and free of charge for all children, whether Swiss or foreign. The municipalities seek to ensure that all children can attend a state school in their own locality or in the nearest town or village. The schools’ directorate of each municipality, or the municipal administration if there is no schools’ directorate, can provide information on general schooling matters, such as admissions, regulations and transport. The majority of students in Switzerland complete their compulsory education at a state school in the municipality in which they live. Roughly 5% of students attend a private school.

Post-compulsory education comprises the upper secondary level and the tertiary level.

Upper secondary level: after completing their compulsory schooling, roughly two-thirds of adolescents in Switzerland move on to vocational education and training (dual-track system). This provides them with a vocational certificate and may also lead to a vocational baccalaureate. Around one-third of adolescents opt to continue their education at an upper secondary specialised school or a baccalaureate school, which prepares them for tertiary education at a university.

Tertiary level: the tertiary level comprises universities (including universities of applied sciences and teacher training universities) and, as an important alternative, institutions providing professional education and training. The latter target people with professional experience, enabling them to gain specialist education and additional qualifications.

RECOGNITION OF DIPLOMAS AND QUALIFICATIONS

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  1. a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  2. a language passport,
  3. certificate supplements,
  4. diploma supplements, and
  5. a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

USEFUL LINKS

http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/de/home.html - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
http://www.ejpd.admin.ch/ejpd/de/home.html - Ministry of Justice and Police
http://www.educa.ch/dyn/14.asp - Education System of Switzerland
http://www.bbt.admin.ch – State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI
www.bsv.admin.ch – Federal Social Insurance Office FSIO
https://www.arbeit.swiss – Work in Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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