Experienced sticker shock during your time in Geneva? Wondered how lower-income Geneva residents manage during extra-lean times (like the pandemic)? These issues came to a head last month during the September 27 elections, when voters in Geneva adopted a local measure that made international headlines:

The introduction of a canton-wide minimum wage of CHF 23/hour.

This wage equates to roughly CHF 3,770/month for a 41-hour work week, or just over CHF 45K/year for full-time workers. It’s thought to be the highest minimum wage in the world, at almost triple that of the US’s federal minimum wage, and double that of the UK.

Geneva consistently ranks in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, and Switzerland (on average) is 80% more expensive than the US. Thus, this new wage will lift a family of 4 (two adults and two under-14 children) just above the Swiss federal poverty line (CHF 3,968).

Similar measures were rejected in 2011 and 2014 in Geneva, but the latest initiative easily passed with the support of 58% of voters. It’s possible that the Covid-19 pandemic (and long lines at local food banks) helped sway the result, with supporters viewing the outcome as a “mark of solidarity” with Geneva’s low-income residents.

The wage will be rolled out this month, and will apply to about 6% of the canton’s workers (30,000). Of these, two-thirds are women. While there is still no Swiss federal minimum wage, Geneva is the 4th canton (of 26) to take the matter to a vote in recent years. More cantons are expected to vote on their respective minimum wages in the coming months.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at  http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/