Switzerland benefits from a wide but tightly-meshed social safety net.
The Swiss social security system has five branches: old-age, survivors’ and invalidity insurance, health and accident insurance cover, compensation for loss of earnings as the result of military/alternative civilian service or maternity, unemployment insurance and family allowances.
The pension system rests on three pillars. The “first pillar” is the old-age and survivors’ insurance scheme (AHV/AVS) and the invalidity insurance scheme (IV/AI). It is compulsory and is financed from employee and employer contributions. The “second pillar” is the occupational pension scheme, which is also compulsory. Employees with annual earnings of at least CHF 21,150 are automatically insured with an occupational pension fund.
The “third pillar” is an optional, private savings scheme.
Private providers offer health and accident insurance cover. Everyone who lives in Switzerland has to take out basic health insurance with a provider of their choosing. The annual co-insurance payment varies from CHF 300 to CHF 2,500 depending on the premium that the insured has chosen to pay. Basic compulsory cover can be supplemented by a range of optional “complementary” policies.
Compensation for loss of earnings (EO/APG) covers the salary lost by those in military service, alternative civilian service and civil protection service. Since 1 July 2005 women benefit from maternity insurance cover, which provides them with 80% of their salary for 14 weeks following the birth of their child.
Unemployment insurance benefits amount to 70% or 80% of the claimant's last salary. Depending on the person's age, support obligations and length of insurance period, claimants may be entitled to receive a daily allowance for between 90 to 520 days. In all cases, the claimant must have paid contributions for at least 12 months over the previous two-year period.
Child allowance rates vary from canton to canton. The minimum is CHF 200 per month for children under 16. The minimum education allowance is CHF 250 per month for children aged between 16 and 25 who are still in education.