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Employing a Cleaner: What you Need to Know

Many people employ a cleaner for a few hours a week, but do you know your obligations under the law? Find out how to keep the tax authorities, the AHV authorities and the Fremdenpolizei off your back in this useful article written by lawyer, Gabrielle Grether…

Paying your cleaner the going rate of Fr. 25 per hour for cleaning duties is not the end of your responsibilities. As an employer the authorities need a little more from you, but it needn’t be a big chore.

Let’s say your cleaner works 10 hours per month and the rate of pay is set at Fr. 25 per hour, giving a total of Fr. 250.- for the month.

Assuming you are employing an EU citizen who has a B permit* through their spouse, you must arrange for the following payments:

  • AHV/IV/ALV of 6.05% = Fr. 15.15 deducted from Employees Pay;
  • AHV/IV/ALV/FAK of 7.9% = Fr. 19.75 added on top of gross pay that YOU as employer pay, not the cleaner;
  • Flat rate tax of 5% unless she earns more than Fr. 20,520 per year.

Total costs to you Fr. 269.75 per month.
Total paid net to cleaner Fr. 222.35.
Total paid to AHV/IV authorities Fr. 47.40 (including tax).

* If the cleaner is Swiss, or has a C permit,  you do not need to deduct any tax.

On top of all this the absolutely most important thing is to ensure you have employers insurance – only about Fr. 100 per year, but if the cleaner has an accident (falls over the vacuum cleaner cord and breaks her leg, or is cleaning an upstairs window and drops the bucket on someone who spends three weeks in hospital in a coma etc) you will have a BIG problem with the authorities if you have not done things properly.

Like every employee, a cleaner is entitled to four weeks paid holiday per year. As your cleaner might work irregular hours, or the employment might be for a short term only, it is legal to include the holiday salary into the hourly salary rather than paying for four weeks the cleaner is not coming to work. This, however, must be mentioned in the employment contract as well as on each monthly salary statement, for example as:

Fr. 23.08 – Basic Salary per hour
Fr.   1.92 – Holiday payment (8.33%)
Fr. 25.00 – Total gross salary per hour

If the holiday entitlement is not mentioned in the contract and salary statements, the cleaner can ask for an extra payment of 8.33% of all salaries paid in order to compensate for the loss of holiday payments at the end of the employment!

Please also note:

  • If a cleaner works regularly on the same week day and this day happens to be a holiday in any given week, the cleaner is entitled to the standard salary although it is a day off. If for example your cleaner always works Mondays, you will have to pay him/her for Easter Monday etc without being allowed to request the work to be done on a different day.
  • If the cleaner cannot come to work due to illness or accident, you will have to pay him/her according to the rules of the Swiss code of obligations. In the first year of service, the salary must be paid for up to three weeks, from the second year of employment for up to eight weeks.
  • Unless any other agreements are specified in the employment contract, the first month of employment is considered a probationary period with a notice period of seven days. From month two, the notice period is one month, from the second year it is two months. The cleaner has the same protection from being fired in case of illness and pregnancy as any other employee.

What if your cleaner explicitly suggests he/she would like to get the salary in cash without any social security, tax etc paid? This risk should not be taken lightly.

First of all, employing somebody without registering for social security is illegal and fined heavily when found out by the authorities, and it is the employer who looks a lot worse in the whole process than the poor employee who has been deprived of his/her social security contributions being paid.  The authorities will claim all unpaid contributions (employer and employee parts) from the employer and will leave it to you to get the non-deducted contributions back from the cleaner.

Second, the risk of being discovered is not to be underestimated, in particular as a cleaner often has several employers who do not know of each other. You might have heard of the case of the cleaner working without a work permit who lost her diary on the tram with an honest finder turning it in at the police station… and the police finding a comprehensive overview of which days she had worked for which employer, with name and address neatly noted in the address section. The employers were quite surprised at being summoned to the police station and questioned about employing somebody who had no valid work permit and not paying the tax and social security contributions…

If you do things right you can relax and enjoy a nice clean house and spend the time with your feet up instead of vacuuming, scrubbing, cleaning and worrying if the authorities will find out from a nosy neighbour. Life has it’s compensations!

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