international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Employees vs Independent Contractors Switzerland

Updated as of 2017


In Switzerland, as in many other jurisdictions, the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is of high practical significance, as different rules apply to each category regarding protection rights, social security and taxation. As statute law only provides basic guidelines on the distinguishing characteristics of each category, the decisions made by the Swiss courts in this area are of great importance. It is important to note that there are two different angles from which the question may be approached. On the one hand, there is the legal qualification of a contractual relationship for private law purposes (or in case of civil servants, public law), which determines whether
employment law protection rights apply or not. On the other hand, employment status for social security purposes is regarded separately. For social security purposes, offering work to another business partner may qualify as a self-employed activity or as employment, depending on certain assessment criteria; these criteria are not identical to the criteria, which apply for private law purposes. Hence, in exceptional cases, a person
offering her or his services may qualify as an independent contractor for employment law purposes, but as a dependent employee for social security purposes.

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