Employing household staff for a few hours a week

Information intended to members of permanent missions (PM) and international organisations (IO) who reside in Switzerland and wish to benefit from domestic help for a few hours a week of housework, gardening or childcare

Undeclared work is forbidden in Switzerland

'Undeclared work' is any activity carried out by non-Swiss citizens without a work permit and which has not been declared (Swiss compulsory social insurances and taxation).

Undeclared work deprives the employee of social security coverage (pension, disability, unemployment and maternity benefits). Where necessary, the employer have to pay with retroactive effect the social contributions (employer's and employee's parts). In addition, they are liable to administrative and even criminal sanctions. If they benefit from diplomatic status, their immunity must first be waived to allow proceedings against them to take place.

It is reminded that, in accordance with the rules, persons enjoying privileges and immunities must respect the laws and regulations of the host State.

Further information:

Taking on household staff means becoming an employer

Domestic work is a gainful activity that must be remunerated and declared to Swiss compulsory social security and to the tax authorities. 

When hiring a non-Swiss worker, ensure they have a valid Swiss residence/work permit

It is the employer's responsibility to check in advance that the person they wish to employ is authorised to work in Switzerland (either a Swiss national or a foreign national with a valid authorisaton, B/L permit with gainful activity or C permit).

The family of members of a PM or OI who hold a legitimation card of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) may be authorised to work in a private household if they request a Ci permit or an authorisation to engage in incidental gainful activity (for up to 10 hours a week) to the cantonal population office in their place of residence.

The following persons may under no circumstances be hired:  

  •  members of a PM or OI who hold an FDFA legitimation card;
  •  private household employees holding a type “F” FDFA legitimation card who are not authorised to work for persons other than their employer (cf. Private Household Employees Ordinance, PHEO);
  • persons in an irregular status or without a valid Swiss residence permit – this includes holders of a permit issued by a European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member state, which allows them to travel within the Schengen area but not to work there.

Minimum wage and working conditions 

The working conditions of persons performing domestic duties such as cleaning, cooking, gardening and childcare are regulated by the standard employment contract (CTT) in force in the employer's canton of residence.

The standard employment contracts in force for the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Basel-Stadt and Bern, which include the mandatory minimum wages, are available online (see below).

Administrative assistance for hiring household employees 

There are service providers that take care of the formalities regarding compulsory social insurances, the eventual taxation at source of the salary, and the payment of the net salary to the employee, all deductions made. Some providers also offer to hire a domestic employee from their own pre-selected pool. A fee is charged for these services.

Non-exhaustive list of service providers:

Employers who do not use such services must personally:

  • affiliate their domestic staff to the compulsory social insurances, pay the social contributions and deduct them from the employee's salary,
  • find out whether the employee must be taxed at source and proceed as required,
  • produce a detailed salary slip,
  • pay the salary, even in the event of incapacity to work (for a limited period, see information note) and taking any holiday compensation into account.

Where applicable, employers should refer to the information below regarding compulsory social insurances and taxation at source: 

Employment contract

Under Swiss labour law, oral contracts are binding, but it is recommended that the parties sign a written contract. In the absence of a written employment contract, if a labour courts (Prud’hommes court) has to make a decisions, it will take into consideration the provisions of the law, namely the applicable cantonal standard employment contract and the provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations (title ten: the employment contract – articles 319 to 343).

For the canton of Geneva, a standard contract that is free to use is proposed by Chèque service.

Need a full-time domestic help? 

Members of PMs and IOs residing in Switzerland and holding legitimation card of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs type 'B', 'C' or 'D' who require a full-time assistance may hire a private household employee within the framework of the Ordinance on Private Household Employees (PHEO).

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Office of Privileges & immunities
Rue de Varembé 9-11
P.O. Box 194
CH-1211 Geneva 20
Tel. +41 (0)58 482 24 24
Fax +41 (0)58 482 24 37