Minimum wages and workers’ rights around the world, Part 3.

We bring you the third and final part of a series looking at minimum wages and workers’ rights around the world. In this episode, we focus on two European countries – Slovakia and Switzerland. Finally, we’ll look at which countries offer the highest and lowest wages in the world.

8 minutes of reading

Read also parts 1 and 2 of this series:

In Part 1, we look at what the purpose of the minimum wage actually is, and what employee rights you may encounter. Then we’ll look at specific areas – Europe, the European Union and Germany.

In the second part we will look at our neighbour Austria, which attracts thousands of Czech workers. But we will also look at the United States and its virtually non-existent employee rights. Finally, we’ll give you advice on what to look out for when looking for work abroad.

Chapters of the article

Minimum wage – Slovakia

In Slovakia, the minimum wage is set by the state. This year, it has been increased and is currently €750 per month and €4,310 per hour. However, the minimum wage in Slovakia still has different levels depending on the difficulty of the professions. Specifically, there are six grades:

  1. Grade: This includes basic handling and preparatory work that follows certain procedures or instructions from a supervisor (e.g. cleaning worker, production operator). The minimum wage is €750.
  2. Grade: This includes routine professional work or work with material responsibility. There are also simple craft activities and work in the health sector (e.g. clerical worker, sales clerk). The minimum wage is EUR 866.
  3. Grade: This includes creative craft work, work with responsibility for the health of others and work requiring physical effort (e.g. nurse). The minimum wage is €982.
  4. Grade: This includes jobs requiring increased mental effort, jobs providing health care, managerial and supervisory positions (e.g. manager). The minimum wage is EUR 1 098.
  5. Grade: This includes conceptually creative and methodical jobs requiring increased mental stamina and jobs with extremely demanding processes where complex procedures must be followed (e.g. production manager, general practitioner). The minimum wage is EUR 1 241.
  6. Grade: This includes creative work that needs to be tackled in unusual ways, work with a high level of responsibility and work with a potentially significant impact on the company (e.g. Managing Director, CEO). The minimum wage is EUR 1 330.

Have you found a new job and are about to sign your employment contract?

Have it checked by an attorney. This will make sure you know what you’re signing and avoid potential unpleasant surprises.

Other employee rights

Employee rights in Slovakia are very similar to those in the Czech Republic. Working hours in Slovakia are limited to 48 hours per week. However, the standard working week is 40 hours. Overtime is allowed only in special cases with a cap of 250 hours per year. For overtime work, the employee is entitled to an additional payment of at least 25% of average earnings or 35% for hazardous occupations. Another option is to use compensatory time off.

Theprobationary period may be a maximum of 3 months or 6 months for managers or members of statutory bodies. Supplementary payments are due for night, public holiday or weekend work and are calculated on the basis of the current minimum wage or the average earnings of the employee.

Tip: The probationary period is the time when the employer checks whether the person is really suitable for the position and when the employee finds out whether the position really suits him/her. Learn how it works in the event of illness or leave during the probationary period.

You are entitled to 20 days’ holiday a year , or 25 days’ holiday if you are over 33 or care for a child under 18. You are entitled to holiday after working 60 days. There is also an additional one week’s leave for people working underground or doing particularly difficult or hazardous work. The length of maternity leave depends on various factors, but it is usually 34 weeks (minimum 28 weeks and maximum 43 weeks). Parental leave lasts until the child reaches the age of three.

How to work in Slovakia

You do not need a special work permit or residence permit to work in Slovakia. All you need is registration with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic. If you are planning a stay of more than 90 days then you must notify the Foreigners Police no later than 30 days after your arrival.

Tip: Want to work abroad as a freelancer? Then read on to find out what it’s like to be able to use your trade in Germany or Slovakia and what you need to do to do so.

Minimum wage – Switzerland

There is no minimum wage in Switzerland. At least not by the state and uniformly. Switzerland is a federation and therefore the minimum wage varies from canton to canton (for example, in Geneva the minimum monthly wage is 4 426 Swiss francs, i.e. less than 120 000 crowns). However, there is no minimum at national level.

Other employee rights

The length of working hours is determined by collective agreements, but most often ranges between 40 and 44 hours per week. Overtime takes two forms:

  1. Extra work: It is allowed without a serious reason, but is limited to a maximum of 2 hours per day, 170 hours per year (for a 45-hour week) or 140 hours (for a 50-hour week).
  2. Classical overtime: It is also allowed without a serious reason and it is the time that exceeds the sum of classical working hours and extra work. The overtime premium is an additional 25% on top of average earnings.

There are also extra payments for night work (night work in Switzerland means working between 11 pm and 6 am). With a few exceptions, employees working at night are entitled to a 25% supplement to their average earnings. If the employee works regularly at night (e.g. shifts or night work only), he is also entitled to compensatory time off equal to 10% of the length of the night work period.

Employees are entitled to four weeks of paid leave per year (five weeks for people under 20). Maternity leave lasts 14 weeks with the possibility of extending it by two weeks (but it is no longer unpaid leave). Leave for the other parent is two weeks.

Tip: Planning to quit your job? We’ll protect your rights – with us, you can be sure that your notice will be valid and you won’t lose anything you’re entitled to under your employment contract. We’ll help you sort it all out in just two days, conveniently and online.

What it’s like to work in Switzerland

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but it is a member of the Schengen Areaand the European Free Trade Association, so it is not difficult for EU citizens to find work here. If you are planning to work in Switzerland for less than three months, you do not need a residence permit. Otherwise, a residence permit is already needed and you need to get one before you start work.

Highest and lowest minimum wages in the world

Countries with high costs of living and robust social security systems have the highest minimum wages. Countries known for their high minimum wages include:

  • Australia: Australia has one of the highest minimum wages in the world, which is adjusted annually. The high cost of living and strong trade unions play a major role.
  • Luxembourg: Luxembourg is known for its high standard of living. This is also linked to the fact that it boasts one of the highest minimum wages. This is largely due to its small population and prosperous economy.

On the other hand, countries with the lowest minimum wages tend to have lower living costs and overall very different economic structures. These include, for example:

  • Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Many countries in this region have very low minimum wages, often due to factors such as widespread poverty, lack of strong trade unions and poor economic conditions.
  • Southeast Asia: Some countries in Southeast Asia have low minimum wages compared to Western countries. This can be attributed to factors such as a lower cost of living and few available positions for the unskilled.

A specific group is those countries that have a low minimum wage but a high cost of living. In these countries, people often struggle to cover the most basic costs from their salaries, creating a gap between rich and poor. Examples of these countries include:

  • The United States of America: The United States has a really high cost of living in certain cities and regions. However, the federal minimum wage is much lower than in other similarly economically advanced countries, on a purchasing power parity basis.
  • Japan: In Japan, the cost of living is really high, especially in big cities like Tokyo. However, the minimum wage is low compared to other developed countries.

Read also parts 1 and 2 of this series:

In Part 1, we look at what the purpose of the minimum wage actually is, and what employee rights you may encounter. Then we’ll look at specific areas – Europe, the European Union and Germany.

In the second part we will look at our neighbour Austria, which attracts thousands of Czech workers. But we will also look at the United States and its virtually non-existent employee rights. Finally, we’ll give you advice on what to look out for when looking for work abroad.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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