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Employment in Lugano

Working as an expat in Lugano can only be seen in a positive light. It is a popular place because of its brilliant rest and relaxation facilities. However, the focus on this tends to eclipse the fact that economically, the city is performing very well, and is the driving force of Ticino.

Add to this the fact that roughly a third of the people working in Lugano are actually commuters from Italy, and the city also takes on a multicultural aspect.

The Key Employment Sectors

If you look for a job in Lugano, it is likely that you will be employed in the tertiary sector. For some time now, business, tourism and finance have been crucial parts of the local economy.

Banking is especially important. Lugano is now the third largest financial center in Switzerland. If you are an expat trained in finance, working in Lugano will therefore be almost as lucrative as working in Zurich. Lugano is not only home to Swiss banks; plenty of private international banks also have offices there.

In total, there are over 100 banking institutions in the city employing a total of about 20,000 people in Lugano’s financial sector.

Alternatively, you might find a job in the tourism industry. The city is the fourth most popular town for tourists in Switzerland. Tourists are attracted both by the historic center and the beautiful scenery, and the industry continues to thrive.

Recently, those working in Lugano have seen an increase in the business sector. This has been matched by improvement in the health sector, thanks to scientific research organizations which support Lugano’s medical facilities. The relocation of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center to Lugano in 2012 has also brought further investment to the city.

General Working Conditions

Working hours are limited by Swiss law to a maximum of 45 hours a week. This applies to anyone working in Lugano as an office employee or in another similar job. This means that you will probably be working in Lugano for longer than in your home country. However, the good news is that all employees over the age of 20 are entitled to four weeks of paid vacation per year.

Looking for a Job in Lugano

In order to successfully apply for a work and residence permit for Lugano, you first need a job offer. Usually, most expats only move to Lugano after securing this job offer and signing the employment contract. The following tools are useful if you wish to search for a job in Lugano.

If you would like some more information about the Swiss workplace, check out our extended guide about jobs and business in Switzerland.

Social Security and Healthcare in Lugano

The System behind Social Security

Social security in Switzerland is based on state funds, occupational funds and private savings. It is compulsory for employers and employees to contribute to the first two schemes. Those who are self-employed also have to contribute.

The pension scheme is a good example of the social security system in action. All employees contribute to the state-run funds, Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance and Disability Insurance. Once you are 25 and receive more than 20,520 CHF per year, you also pay contributions into the occupational fund, which are matched by your employer.

Social Security for Expats

There are some benefits for expats in Lugano who come from the EU, or from Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Israel, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Philippines, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, and the USA.

Residents of the above countries are entitled to a Swiss state pension when they are ready to retire, even if they no longer live in Switzerland. This is a benefit guaranteed in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, which ensures that the social security systems of member states are coordinated.

Health Insurances Offering the Best Medical Care

With 10% of the GDP spent on health, you will benefit from excellent medical facilities while living in Lugano. You will be required to have basic health insurance (assicurazione mallattie), and you must obtain this within three months of arrival in Lugano. Only some employers arrange for coverage, so many must seek health insurance themselves.

Note that global health insurance policies are usually not accepted in Switzerland (even if they state otherwise). Instead, you should register with a state-run Swiss insurance company. This can cost up to 10,000 CHF a year, though some employers do make reductions available.

The most basic insurance will cover 90% of the price of prescription drugs, and means that you will need to pay 20 CHF per day for a hospital stay. It might be worthwhile to also purchase private healthcare. While this is costly, private health insurance in Switzerland is amongst the best in the world. If you can afford it, it is worth investing in.

Healthcare Priorities: Pharmacies and Emergencies

As a Swiss resident, you will have free access to all doctors and hospitals. You can go straight to them without consulting your general practitioner. However, most of the Swiss population will visit a pharmacy prior to the doctor.

Pharmacists are always highly qualified, tend to speak fluent English, and give excellent advice. Pharmacies usually have a monopoly on medicines: you will not find any drugs for sale in supermarkets. The benefit is that pharmacies are scattered across Lugano, and each week one pharmacy is open all night for emergencies.

If you need an ambulance, call the uniform emergency number, 144. The operator will then direct the call through to medical services. The main hospitals in Lugano are listed below. Please note that their websites are mostly available in Italian only.

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