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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Switzerland ranked ‘best country’ in the world

Switzerland has been placed in top spot in yet another international ranking. But does it deserve such a high score?

Switzerland ranked 'best country' in the world
Definitely not a bad place to live. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

In its annual ranking of 85 nations, US News & World Report has placed Switzerland in top position, based on 73 different criteria.

While it did not come up tops in all of the categories, Switzerland did sufficiently well in others to get an overall high score, as well as high scores in several individual categories.

There are some of them:

Open for Business (100 points out of 100)

This title may be somewhat misleading, as it could be taken to mean that shops and other businesses are open until late hours.

If this were the case, Switzerland wouldn’t get the maximum score; in fact, it would probably place toward the bottom of the ranking.

Instead, this category means ‘business friendly’— and that Switzerland certainly is.

As the report puts it, “The countries considered the most business-friendly are those that are perceived to best balance stability and expense. These market-oriented countries are a haven for capitalists and corporations”.

In other words, the government has created a good environment for businesses to thrive, by offering, for instance, tax incentives and a skilled labour force.

This is actually a good thing because when businesses do well, so does the entire economy.

The proof that Switzerland excels in this category is that it has “low unemployment, and one of the highest gross domestic products per capita in the world”, the report states.

“This helps explain why the country placed first on the list of nations perceived as a good place to headquarter a corporation, as well as scoring in the top five among best countries for a comfortable retirement, green living and to start a career”.

READ MORE: Switzerland ‘an island of bliss’ compared to US, chief economist says

Quality of Life (96.7)

This term could mean different things to different people. But as defined in the report, “beyond the essential ideas of broad access to food, housing, quality education, health care and employment, quality of life may also include intangibles such as job security, political stability, individual freedom and environmental quality”.

Switzerland certainly offers all four. Unemployment is low, which means there are plenty of job opportunities.

The country is politically stable from within, with well established democratic processes — such as referendums — providing security against abuses of power.

Freedom, including the right to ‘self-determination’, is a constitutional right.

And while ecological concerns related to global warming do exist, the Swiss are good at protecting the nature that surrounds them.

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Other quality-of-life categories that weight in Switzerland’s favour include safety, well-developed public education, and a top-notch public health system.

Switzerland has done well across all these categories, but this is no news to anyone who has been following such rankings: the country, or its individual cities, regularly figure among those boasting a high quality of life.

READ MORE: REVEALED: Which Swiss cities offer the best quality of life?

Social purpose (86.6)

This means the country cares about human and animal rights, the environment, gender equality, religious freedom, property rights, well-distributed political power, racial equity, climate goals, and social justice.

Switzerland does particularly well in some of these categories, and less so in others.

In terms of animal rights, for instance, the country’s legislation is among the toughest in the world: as an example, small domestic animals must be kept in pairs to ensure social interaction, and it is illegal to boil a live lobster.

Another category in which Switzerland succeeds possibly better than other nations is the distribution of political power — under Switzerland’s unique system of direct democracy, people, rather than politicians, hold and wield all the power.

READ MORE: How Switzerland’s direct democracy system works

You will find the overall rankings in this link.
 

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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

EXPLAINED: How to legally hire a cleaner in Switzerland

In today’s busy world, cleaners are indispensable help for many households, but you may be surprised to find that hiring one (legally) in Switzerland is not as straightforward as you think. Here’s how you do it the right way.

EXPLAINED: How to legally hire a cleaner in Switzerland

First things first, there are two ways to hire a cleaner legally: you can become an employer yourself, or use a cleaning agency that will put you in touch with a cleaner. The latter will also take care of all the administration and is generally far more convenient (if your cleaning person is off sick for instance, you will be provided with a different cleaner) albeit, more expensive. The agency also assumes all ancillary costs such as AHV and insurance.

However, some people prefer to be more in control and hire a cleaner on their own. Here’s the lowdown on how to do that:

Draw up a contract

First, it is crucial to sit down with your cleaner and establish what kind of tasks and in what capacity they will be required to work for you. While a written employment contract is not mandatory, it is often recommended so you can both agree on the most important key points such as wages, payment method, working hours and areas of responsibility.

Additionally, if your cleaner is not Swiss, make sure they have the necessary work permit. If they are a recognised refugee or temporarily admitted in Switzerland, their employment must be reported prior to beginning to work for you.

After you have drawn up a contractual agreement, you will need to register with your local Ausgleichkasse. In order to register your cleaner, you will need to provide their necessary personal information, such as their AHV number. Ask your cleaner if he or she has a spouse and if they already receive family allowances. If not, you must also register them with a Familienausgleichskasse.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

Wages

Cleaners in Switzerland earn an average of 31 francs per hour, but how much you choose to pay your cleaner is ultimately up to you – and varies from canton to canton.

Should your cleaner be required to work irregular hours, make sure to agree an hourly wage including holiday allowance. A holiday surcharge of 8.33 per cent is usual across Switzerland and means that the salary is paid in for four weeks of vacation per year. Alternatively, should you require your cleaner regularly, a monthly salary can be agreed.

A home in Geneva.

A home in Geneva. Photo by Edi Bouazza on Unsplash

On January 1st 2023 the Swiss Federal Council adjusted the minimum wages for domestic workers working over 5 hours a week to an hourly rate of CHF 19.50 to 23.55.

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However, when agreeing on a wage for your cleaner do not forget about the deductions. You will have to deduct 6.4 percent from the gross salary for AHV and IV contributions as well as unemployment insurance and 5 percent withholding tax.

If you register for the simplified accounting procedure – such as with KLARA Home, a digital assistant that helps you hire and insure domestic workers in accordance with the law -, your employee’s taxes will be automatically deducted from their wage, and it spares you having to fill out a wage statement at the end of the year.

Register them with an approved accident insurer. 

As a rule, a cleaner will only work a few hours per week for any household. Despite this, you will have to make a few key arrangements for this work to be conducted legally.

Remember that every person living and working in Switzerland must be registered with an accident insurer, so be sure to register your cleaner with one, as health insurances only cover for non-occupational accidents. Should you require your cleaner for more than eight hours a week, you must also insure them against non-occupational accidents.

What about other obligations?

Once your cleaner is registered, all you need to do is report their gross salary to the compensation office at the end of the year. The insurer will then create a statement of the social security contributions and bill you for them.

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