Start a business in Geneva

5. Employment, accounting and taxation

Please note that you can benefit from various recruitment aids when hiring unemployed registered candidates.

  • Do you want to hire staff to develop your company's activity?

Here are some important elements concerning labour law in Geneva.

  • Employment contract

The employment contract is concluded as soon as the employer and the worker have expressed the intention to provide work for a salary. It can be oral or written. It must be in writing for apprenticeship contracts or when both parties agree on conditions different from those provided for in the Code of Obligations (termination deadlines, payment of salary in the event of illness or accident, etc.). The hiring of trainees or apprentices must meet a number of criteria.

  • Working hours

The law sets the maximum weekly working time at 45 hours for workers in industrial enterprises, clerical, technical and other employees, and retail trade. The limit is 50 hours for other workers, unless otherwise specified.

The working hours are fixed in the contract. In Switzerland, it is on average 41.6 hours and 40.9 hours in Geneva (Federal Statistical Office 2012).

  • Dismissal

Except in exceptional cases (immediate dismissal for just cause), it is essential to comply with certain conditions in the event of dismissal, in particular those relating to the period of leave. This amounts to 7 days during the trial period, 1 month for the end of a month during the 1st year of service, 2 months for the end of a month from the 2nd to the 9th year of service and 3 months for the end of a month later.

  • Social security contributions

As an entrepreneur / self-employed person, you are required to join a compensation fund to contribute to the compulsory social insurance schemes. You can do this either with the Cantonal Social Insurance Office or with a professional compensation fund.

  • Engagement of a foreign employee

The employment of a foreign employee is possible with an authorization and a work permit.

  • Accounting

All companies must keep accounts, the form of which depends on the nature and scope of the business according to articles 957 to 964 of the Code of Obligations.

It is strongly recommended to establish an operating budget and a cash flow budget for your company. Indeed, you must quickly know if your business will generate profits or losses in order to take the necessary measures.

  •  Taxation and VAT

Switzerland has an attractive tax system for companies. The latter are taxed at three different levels: municipal, cantonal and federal.

At municipal and cantonal level, companies are required to pay income and capital tax as well as withholding tax.


At the federal level, companies are subject to stamp duty and value added tax (VAT). Stamp duty concerns certain specific legal transactions, while VAT applies in principle to all companies with an annual turnover of more than CHF 100,000.

Last updated
2 October 2023

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