Pocket money, working hours and au pair contract in Switzerland

Find out the details of how au pairs and families work together in Switzerland. How much pocket money does an au pair receive, how are holidays organised, should the family and the au pair have a contract? All the important conditions for an au pair stay in Switzerland are  presented here.

Young woman with a wallet in her hands
  • Au pair contract

    Before au pairs leave their home country, they should sign an au pair contract together with the host family. The contract will specify the rights and duties of both the au pair and the host family. The contract will regulate the conditions of the au pair stay, length of au pair stay, working hours, holiday entitlement of the au pair, specific details of accommodation, details about the language course and pocket money entitlement, etc..
    Au pair employment must comply with the conditions of a normal employment contract for domestic workers in the au pair's canton including conditions for working hours and free time.

    Three copies of the contract need to be prepared and signed. The au pair and the host family each receive a compy and the third copy goes to the relevant cantonal immigration and labour market authority.

    Termination of the au pair contract

    The au pair contract is valid for the duration of the au pair stay. However, it is possible to terminate the contract before its scheduled conclusion, for example if the au pair and host family are not getting along. The Swiss regulations indicate that the contract usually has a month probationary period. During this time, the contract can be terminated with a notice period of 7 days. After the probationary period is over, termination of the au pair contract is only possible when done in writing with a notice period of one month.

    In serious cases, the contract can be terminated immediately and thus without a notice period. In these cases, termination must be effected in writing and there must be a legitimate reason for the termination. If the family terminates the contract without serious reasons or without adhering to the notice period, the au pair has a right to their pocket money and non-monetary benefits (or the corresponding amount of the non-monetary benefits until the end of the notice period or until the end of the contract. In such cases, the au pair also has the right to compensation for any damages caused by the unreasonable termination of the contract.  

  • Length of stay

    An au pair stay in Switzerland generally lasts up to one year. Au pairs from EU or EFTA countries have the opportunity, under reasonable circumstances, to extend their au pair stay to a maximum of 24 months. Au pairs from other countries do not have the opportunity to extend their au pair stay.

  • Au pair duties

    Au pairs help with looking after the host family's children and taking care of light housework. They receive free board and lodging plus pocket money in return. Au pairs need to discuss their exact duties with the future host family far enough in advance and then put the exact agreements into the au pair contract. For at least half of the au pair's working hours one of the host parents must also be present. The tasks of an au pair only consist of light housework and taking care of the children. Highly demanding tasks are not permitted, for example actually educating the children or being a language teacher/tutor of the children.

  • Pocket money

    In Switzerland, au pairs receive pocket money and non-monetary benefits as part of your compensation. These non-monetary benefits amount to 990 CHF. The amount of pocket money changes according to the age of the au pair and the canton in which they are au pairing. The amount is subject to the regulations in the canton and the amounts defined by the different associations in charge. Usually the amount is around 500 to 700 CHF per month.
    If an au pair is unable to work, she or he is entitled to continued payment. Holidays and bank holidays are also paid. Withholding tax must be taken from the pocket money. The host family will have to submit an accounting form to the tax office in your canton.

  • Board and lodging

    Au pairs receive free board and lodging in exchange for helping with light household tasks and looking after the children. The au pair is entitled to a personal room like any other family member.

  • Working hours

    In Switzerland, au pairs only work for half of the day and must not work more than 30 hours a week. Usually, that means they will work from Monday to Saturday. For at least half of the au pair's working hours one of the parents must also be present. The au pair's working schedule must allow time to take part in a language course.

  • Free time and holiday

    Au pairs are entitled to at least one full day off per week. Depending on which canton the au pair is in, there may be other rules regarding free time.

    The amount of holiday au pairs receive depends on their age. Up until their 20th year, au pairs receive 5 full weeks of holiday per year. Au pairs over 20 are entitled to 4 weeks annual holiday. The conditions can change depending on the canton in which the au pair is living. 

    In Switzerland, there are no official regulations with regard to public holidays for au pairs. We recommend that au pairs have a day off on public holidays. Only in exceptional cases should au pairs work on public holidays. The host family should discuss this with their au pair beforehand.

  • Language course

    Au pairs who work in Switzerland have to attend a language course, according to which language is spoken where they are staying. For more information regarding who is in charge of the payment of the course, please contact directly the cantonal immigration and labour market authorities. If the au pair stay lasts a year the language course must consist of 120 hours (around 2-3 hours per week). Private instruction from an individual is only possible under special circumstances.

  • Au pair insurance

    Au pairs are obligated to make social insurance contributions just like  other employed people in Switzerland. Usually, half of the social contributions will be paid by the au pair and half by the host family. To facilitate the payment of these contributions, the family must apply for an insurance certificate at the social insurance authorities. The contributions amount to 12.5% of the au pair's gross income no matter how much pocket money you receive in total. The contributions are for pension insurance, disability insurance, sick pay and unemployment insurance and are paid 50-50 by the au pair and the family. The pocket money as well as the non-monetary benefits are subject to contribution payments. 

    During the au pair stay in Switzerland, au pairs also benefit from health insurance, accident insurance and pension insurance. The amount to be paid on a monthly basis depends on the insurance taken out and the coverage. At least half of the contributions will be paid by the host family. The contributions for occupational injury insurance are paid solely by the family.

  • Travel costs

    In some cantons the host family is responsible for the travel costs of the au pairs. For more information, take a look at the cantonal labour market authorities.

  • Driving licence

    Au papirs and host families should clarify in advance whether the au pair will be expected to drive a car as part of the au pair duties. If this is the case, then it must be checked if the au pair's driving licence is valid in Switzerland. The following points also should be clarified beforehand: What happens if the au pair has an accident? Who will pay for repairs and in what amount? Often it is possible for the family to extend their insurance to cover the au pair.

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We are continually researching and updating our host country information, but cannot guarantee that all material provided is complete and correct. If you notice gaps or inaccuracies, we would like to hear from you.
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