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How do SMEs & Startups manage their payroll in Switzerland?

March 30, 2021
4 min read

In Switzerland, an SME or Startup has two options to manage their payroll.

  • Work with an Accountant
  • Do it themselves

Working with an Accountant

Those who work with an accountant will outsource the payroll process. They will however be expected to gather all payroll information for the accountant to initially set everything up. Be forewarned, working with an accountant does not necessarily mean you do less work. You will still need to collect all the information for the accountant so he/she can set up the payroll. You will also need to report any changes like expenses, allowances, child birth and others on a monthly basis which come from employees.

Once all information is gathered by the SME and sent via email or PDF, the accountant will retype this information into their payroll software, typically a larger enterprise solution like Abacus or Microsoft Dynamics for which an SME will not direct access. Not having direct access means that any changes to payroll, an SME will have to report via email or shared documents to the accountant so the accountant can re-enter that into their payroll software.

There are scenarios where an SME will utilise a more friendlier payroll solution like Bexio or Klara. From our experience, an SME will still need help using these more "friendlier" solutions especially when it comes to the onboarding process and getting new employees setup on payroll. This where an accountant will step in to set up a company's payroll on Bexio.

Once the SME is setup on Bexio, if there are any major changes like an insurance reimbursement or a new employee joins who has a B permit, the accountant will again step in to select the right wage type or input the right withholding tax code. There is no built in logic within Bexio to guide the SME through wage type selection and therefore the accountant's role is still very pivotal. It's very important that an SME knows which wage type or wage type (s) to select in Bexio for each specific case otherwise it causes payroll inaccuracies. Selecting the wrong wage type could mean doing an adjustment at year end which can be painful. That is why most SMEs prefer to use an accountant when setting up a new employee or setting up their company in their payroll software.

Keep in mind that each time you use the accountant, the meter is running. An accountant will charge on average between 35-60 CHF per employee per month to run your payroll. This does not include the costs of company setup, employee onboarding and mutations to the payroll which could be charged on an hourly basis or part of a set monthly package. The accountant charges are on top of any charges an SME will incur to be on Bexio or other payroll software.

Some SMEs think the costs are quite expensive but the reality is the accountant is just trying to break even on managing an SME's payroll. The accountant makes money on the additional services that he/she provides and payroll is just an administrative task they undertake in order to keep the client for the value added services.

Do it yourself

The other option is for an SME to do it themselves. But it can be quite tricky to translate insurance policies and add the right rates into your payroll software or identify the right wage type if an employee gets sick. Below is a breakdown of what is needed for those SMEs courageous enough to setup their own payroll without an accountant and manages it monthly.

The typical information you need to set up your payroll is listed below:

  1. Company Information (UID, Legal formation, Address, etc)
  2. Accident Insurance Policies
  3. Daily Sickness Insurance Policies
  4. Additional Insurance Policy (Optional)
  5. Pension Policy
  6. Employee Information for each Employee
  7. Company Policies (Working hours, vacation, etc)

We cover these in more detail in our article "How to set up and manage your own payroll as an SME in Switzerland?" Once an SME has all information ready, it is wise to choose a payroll software that is SwissDec certified. SwissDec certified simply means that the payroll software covers all possible use cases in Switzerland so there will be no errors in your payroll calculation. Some examples of SwissDec payroll software include Bexio, Klara and of our backend product Mega Salaries of Earny.

To Close

Whether an SME chooses to do payroll themselves or outsource it to an accountant, one thing is clear, they need to spend time setting up payroll and monitoring it on a monthly basis for any changes.

At Earny, we don't believe SMEs nor accountants should be spending time on such an administrative task that takes time away from growing their business. We believe in a simple payroll set up and payroll autopilot where any changes should be reported by employees themselves and factored into the next payroll cycle seamlessly.

The future of payroll is bright. For those interested, follow us on LinkedIn or reach out to be apart of the revolution.

Bassil Eid
Earny CEO

CEO of Earny and long time CFO working with Startups.