Payroll portage

Payroll portage is a growing professional practice, offering an interesting alternative for independent workers who wish to enjoy the benefits of salaried employment while maintaining a degree of freedom. It also allows companies to outsource certain services without having to manage the administrative formalities associated with hiring.

Payroll portage involves a tripartite relationship between an independent worker, a payroll portage company, and an end client. The payroll portage company acts as the employer and bills the client for the services of the independent worker, who is remunerated in the form of a salary. 

Although this model, created in France, is gaining popularity in Switzerland, it is sometimes inappropriately used to present independent workers as employees to social insurance, which can lead to the refusal of certain benefits despite the payment of contributions.

Benefits of payroll portage

Payroll portage has significant advantages for independent workers, who cannot subscribe to unemployment insurance and are not subject to mandatory occupational pension or accident insurance. However, through the payroll portage model, the portage company acts as a fictitious employer for independent workers, thereby allowing them access to unemployment insurance, occupational pension obligations, and accident insurance. By paying social contributions on behalf of independent workers, the portage company converts fees into salary and handles regular administrative tasks such as collecting client fees. This offers independent workers the necessary social security to carry out their professional activity with peace of mind. It should be noted that there is no optional unemployment insurance for independent workers, making the payroll portage model particularly interesting for them.
By opting for payroll portage, independent workers can enjoy many benefits associated with employee status, including social security, paid leave, and health insurance. Moreover, this arrangement provides better credibility and visibility for independent workers, as well as professional liability insurance coverage.

For companies, payroll portage represents an interesting alternative to hiring independent workers without having to handle the administrative formalities associated with direct employment. Thus, companies can outsource certain tasks and enjoy greater flexibility in managing their human resources.

Compliance with the law

In Switzerland, unlike France where payroll portage is recognized as a form of employment, this model is not considered a legal employment practice. Therefore, independent workers engaged in payroll portage in Switzerland may be denied benefits in case of unemployment or accident, and may also face legal problems concerning occupational pension. Swiss fiduciary companies are allowed to manage accounting on behalf of independent workers, but are not allowed to employ them. Consequently, independent workers are considered as such and do not benefit from social advantages such as unemployment insurance, accident insurance, or mandatory occupational pension.
It is important to note that using payroll portage in Switzerland can lead to legal risks for independent workers, who may be denied certain social insurance benefits, such as unemployment or accident indemnities, as well as face legal difficulties concerning occupational pension. Therefore, it is advised to research the different legal options available in Switzerland and to check if the accounting company is a fiduciary, a service rental, or a payroll portage company.

Operation of payroll portage in Switzerland

Service leasing, known as payrolling, is an authorized practice in Switzerland. It involves a service lessor acting as an employer, especially in ensuring the payment of salary, accounting for and remitting contributions to social insurances, and handling administrative formalities in the case of foreign workers. The service lessor then rents the services of a person to a tenant company, which has the direction powers of an employer. However, Swiss companies wishing to use this practice must obtain prior authorization. Unlike payroll portage, service leasing allows independent workers to benefit from the social advantages associated with their employment. However, it is crucial to respect legal and contractual provisions to avoid any legal or financial risk, including the risk of “fictitious salaried employment”.
The Federal Office for Social Insurance (FOSI) has published an information sheet to raise awareness of this risk, and it is recommended to check whether the accounting company is a fiduciary, service rental, or payroll portage company, with the latter model not being authorized in Switzerland.

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