Finance and insurance


Withholding tax
Employees resident in Switzerland who do not have a permanent residence permit (C permit) are taxed on their income at source. This means that the employer deducts the tax directly from their salary and transfers it to the cantonal tax authority.

People who work in Switzerland but keep their tax residence abroad, such as weekly residents and cross-border commuters, are also taxed at source, albeit at different rates.

Income tax
People with a permanent residence permit (C permit) or a gross income of more than CHF 120,000 a year must complete a standard tax return. The same applies if the person is married to a Swiss citizen or the spouse has a C permit.

Income tax comprises a federal tax, a cantonal tax and a communal tax. Different tax laws and rates apply in all 26 cantons. A tax return must be completed once a year. This will determine the annual tax liability.

Social insurance

Swiss retirement provision is based on the three-pillar principle. Pillar 1 consists of Old Age and Survivors' Insurance (OASI or AHV) and Invalidity Insurance (IV) as well as supplementary benefits. The 1st pillar is compulsory and should cover basic living expenses. Pillar 2 consists of an occupational pension (pension fund), which is also compulsory. The 3rd pillar is a voluntary private pension. Generally speaking, pillars 2 and 3 together should be enough to maintain your accustomed standard of living after retirement. As a WSL employee, you are insured (unless otherwise specified in the contract) under pillars 1 and 2.

Important: as soon as a person's place of residence and/or work moves outside Switzerland (e.g. in the case of field or project work abroad lasting more than one month), special rules apply. It can no longer be assumed that the person will continue to be insured under Swiss social security law. Unintended gaps in cover may arise under certain circumstances. If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources.

Health insurance

Everyone is required to take out health insurance with a Swiss health insurance provider (Krankenkasse). Even if you are only living in Switzerland for a few months or have travel health insurance for the duration of your stay, you are still required to take out insurance here or submit a request for exemption.

For more details, see “After you arrive” > “Taking out health insurance”.

Accident insurance

Occupational accident insurance (BU)
All employees whose salaries are subject to social insurance contributions must be insured against occupational accidents. This insurance covers medical expenses and daily allowances, provides accident-related disability benefits and supports surviving dependants following the death of the insured person.

Eligible employees at WSL are insured by the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund SUVA against the consequences of occupational accidents. The insurance premium is paid by WSL.

Non-occupational accident insurance (NBU)
Non-occupational accident insurance covers the financial consequences of accidents outside work. An employee working at least eight hours a week for the same employer is also insured against non-occupational accidents. This is based on the number of hours actually worked over an extended period.

As the employer, WSL pays one third of the premium for non-occupational accident insurance, with the employee paying the remaining two thirds.

Personal liability and contents insurance

Personal liability
Liability insurance is not mandatory. However, you are strongly recommended to take out personal liability insurance. This will protect you from claims for damages if you injure another person or damage property belonging to another person. There is no special insurance for cyclists but they are recommended to take out personal liability insurance. Some landlords insist on seeing evidence of your personal liability insurance before you can sign a rental agreement.

Contents insurance
Home contents insurance covers damage to personal household items by fire, water, theft or glass breakage. You are recommended to have this insurance, which is often combined with personal liability insurance.

Further information and suitable insurance providers can be found at: