international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Switzerland: Canton Zurich follows Suit in Introducing Minimum Wages to its Two Largest Cities: With 65.5% in Zurich and 69.4% in Winterthur, Voters Cast a Strong Yes Vote for the Introduction of a Municipal Minimum Wage

After a national minimum wage initiative was rejected by Swiss voters in 2014, the Canton of Zurich is now following the example of cantons such as Neuchâtel and Geneva by having voted on the introduction of a minimum wage at the municipal level in its two most populous cities Zurich and Winterthur.

The strong results (65.5% in Zurich and 69.4% in Winterthur) delighted the proponents of minimum wages – including Unia, the omnipresent workers’ union in Switzerland, as they see the introduction of minimum wages as an effective tool for combating gender-based wage inequalities as well as wage dumping and exploitation.

The new minimum wage applies to all employees who perform most of their work within the territory of the respective city. It is not applicable to employees who:

  • complete an internship of an educational nature limited to a maximum of twelve months;
  • work as apprentices in recognized training companies;
  • are exempt from the provisions of the Labor Act as family members in family businesses pursuant to Art. 4, Para. 1 of the Federal Law on Work in Industry, Trade and Commerce (Labor Act)3;
  • are participating in occupational and social integration programs; e.g. are younger than 25 years of age and do not have at least a Federal Vocational Certificate (EBA) level vocational apprenticeship diploma; or
  • are subject to cantonal personnel law or federal personnel law.

The date of entry into force of this regulation is not yet known, as various administrative and legal issues still need to be clarified in advance. Nevertheless, employers in Zurich and Winterthur should already start preparing for a possible adjustment of their paid wages according to the new law. Once it is enforced, a minimum wage of CHF 23.90 will apply in Zurich and CHF 23.00 in Winterthur.