On 27 September 2020 a referendum approved the '23 frs, c'est un minimum' ('23 Swiss francs is a minimum') initiative, introducing a minimum wage of Sfr23 (approximately £19, $25 or €22) per hour in the canton of Geneva, which has applied since 1 November 2020.
This article provides an overview of the new minimum wage's application.
The new minimum wage is provided for by the Geneva cantonal Law on Inspection and Labour Relations (LIRT; RS/GE J 1 05), which has been adapted following the initiative's adoption. The LIRT now contains a new Chapter IVB devoted to the minimum wage (new Articles 39I to 39N of the LIRT).
This minimum wage applies to all workers who usually carry out their work in the canton of Geneva, regardless of their branch of activity (with the exception of agriculture and floriculture).
Thus, the minimum wage applies to all occupations within the domestic economy.
The minimum wage prevails over any lower wage provided for by an individual contract, a collective employment agreement or a standard employment contract and automatically applies to any employment contract on its entry into force, without it being necessary to modify current contracts.
Nevertheless, the new legal provisions provide for a few rare exceptions where the minimum wage does not apply – namely:
- apprenticeship contracts;
- employment contracts concluded with people under the age of 18; and
- internship contracts which are part of a school or professional training provided for by cantonal or federal legislation.
According to the Labour Market Supervisory Board, which is competent to rule on disputes relating to the admission of an exception to the minimum wage, internships which are exempt from the application of the minimum wage include:
- compulsory or optional internships followed as part of certified training;
- orientation internships between two training programmes; and
- professional or social reintegration internships, insofar as they fall within the scope of a federal or cantonal legal provision.
These criteria are strict. Thus, any contracts, even short term, which do not meet the abovementioned criteria (eg, summer jobs) are at present not exempt from minimum wage requirements.
The minimum wage is set at Sfr23 per hour. However, it will be indexed every year starting 1 January 2021.
Therefore, the minimum wage will amount to Sfr23 per hour in November 2020 and December 2020 and Sfr23.14 per hour for 2021.
Thus, monthly wages will be as follows:
- For November 2020 and December 2020:
- Sfr3,986.67 per month for a 40-hour working week;
- Sfr4,186 per month for a 42-hour working week; and
- Sfr4,485 per month for a 45-hour working week.
- For 2021:
- Sfr4,010.93 per month for a 40-hour working week;
- Sfr4,211.48 per month for a 42-hour working week; and
- Sfr4,512.30 per month for a 45-hour working week.
The hourly wage may be reduced proportionally if the wage is paid 13 times a year (eg, Sfr21.23 per hour in 2020).
However, the minimum wage includes no vacation or public holiday pay, which must be paid in addition to the minimum wage.
As indicated, subject to the abovementioned exceptions, this legal minimum wage applies even if employees' current employment contracts provide for a lower wage.
The new minimum wage has been in force since 1 November 2020.
The Cantonal Office for Work Inspection and Labour Relations (OCIRT) may issue penalties in the event of non-compliance with the new minimum wage, including administrative fines of up to Sfr30,000. This amount may be doubled in the event of a repeat offence.
In addition, the OCIRT maintains a public list of employers that have been penalised.