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A comparison between Payrolling and the status of an Independent/Self-Employed

Payrolling or the status of an Independent/Self-Employed. What is better and why?

When someone chooses to become self-employed, the question of the legal status arises as one has to start invoicing one or more clients. Is it better to become self-employed or to work using a payroll or umbrella company?

In order to choose between payrolling and self-employed status, it is essential to be familiar with the specific characteristics of both statuses. In this article we summarise their main characteristics and provide an advanced comparison table which is also available in .pdf.

1. Independent or self-employed status in Switzerland

In Switzerland a person is obliged to have his status recognised by the cantonal compensation office.

The compensation office checks whether the status of self-employed person can be granted according to the criteria of the Federal Law on Old Age and Survivors' Insurance (OASI), the directives of the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) and the case law of the Federal Court (FC).

The AHV/IV Information Centre provides a list of compensation offices. In Geneva, for example, the main AHV compensation office is the OCAS. It is this office that can recognise your self-employed status.

The particularities and difficulties are as follows:

  • To obtain the status, you have to provide a whole set of documents and prove that you have at least 3 clients
  • One of the particularities in Switzerland is that you must have already started your activity
  • The process takes several weeks and the status is not necessarily granted
  • You cannot be insured for unemployment
  • If you are granted the status, you have to contract by yourself:
    • An accident insurance covering occupational and non-occupational accidents and occupational diseases
    • A loss of earnings insurance which allows you to receive your salary in the event of illness
    • A professional liability insurance, which covers material and physical damage caused to third parties in the course of professional activity
    • Depending on the activity carried out, some insurance policies are compulsory (civil liability, fire insurance), others optional (legal protection, theft, etc.)
  • You can use your 2nd pillar and withdraw it, but you must withdraw it in its entirety. If you are married, your spouse must approve the withdrawal
  • You must keep accounts for the annual tax return and are subject to VAT on sales over CHF 100,000

2. Payrolling over an umbrella company  in Switzerland

The particularities and advantages are as follows:

  • Payrolling involves a three-way contractual relationship:
    • You, the Consultant
    • Your client company
    • The payroll or umbrella company, such as Thalent SA
  • 2 contracts are established:
    • A permanent employment contract between you, the employee and the payroll company
    • A service contract between the client company and the payroll company

The big advantage of Thalent is that you receive a permanent contract, as opposed to other companies that establish payrolling contracts. Contact us to find out more.

  • You are fully covered by social security: unemployment, AVS pension, 2nd pillar LPP
  • All accident insurance, maternity allowance are included
  • You benefit from paid holidays
  • You can start your activity directly if you have only one client, for example, once you have signed the 2 contracts mentioned above
  • You do not have to worry about administrative tasks such as invoicing, reminders, work permits
  • You don't have to do any accounting
  • A company like Thalent will help you to optimise your tax returns
  • The payroll company charges you of course a fee for these services

Our opinion and our comparison table

If you don't know how to go about it and how the independent status works, payrolling is undoubtedly the most effective solution. Moreover, you can start directly and if you work with Thalent without any start-up costs.

In our opinion, it is better to start your activity as an independent, self-employed only once you have the necessary know-how and number of clients, to become so.

The fact that you cannot benefit from unemployment insurance will not change if you are self employed in Switzerland.

Our experience :

At Thalent some of our consultants who started out as payroll Consultants have gone on to become self-employed or have set up a company, only to return later again to payrolling  because it was not worth it for them. It all depends on your situation, your needs, the way you work, the type and number of your clients and whether you want to take care of the administration or not.

Now go straight to the:

Comparison table between Payrolling and the status of an Independent/Self-Employed

Or download the corresponding .pdf!

Besure to regularly check our homepage and follow us on our social networks for more information regarding payrolling and becoming an independent consultant. If you like our posts we would be thankful if you could give us a like on Linkedin or Facebook!

Author: KF

Interview of Pierre Strübin - Chairman of Thalent.com

Interview of Pierre Strübin – Chairman of Thalent

1. Pierre, you are a multi-entrepreneur and President of the Foundation Board of the Fondation Genevoise pour l’Innovation Technologique - Fongit which is Switzerland’s premier innovation incubator supporting innovative tech ventures in Geneva.​ Can you tell us a bit more about your career path?

I am married, with 4 children. I hold an engineering degree from the EPFL, have additional training in finance and also hold an MBA.

I worked in industrial companies such as Sécheron-ABB, LEME and an international organisation. Then I was appointed director of Fongit and created the company Thalent.com in 2001. Thalent is therefore 20 years old in 2021.

The company was created to respond to the demand of experienced consultants who had mandates but no company capable of managing the administrative part of the work, like client offers, client invoicing, payment of salaries and social charges.

2. Is payrolling aimed at senior executives?

We have to admit that most of our consultants are experienced people with the ability to execute mandates and who are considered by clients as experts.

It is true that they are often seniors, but we also have very competent people in their thirties.

3. Payrolling is a subject that is being talked about a lot at the moment. Can you tell us a little more about it in relation to the services of your company Thalent SA?

The consultant can concentrate on his job, which is to deliver high added value services. Thalent takes care of the administrative and invoicing part and makes sure that the consultant can work in an environment that complies with the legal framework concerning employment.

4. Your company also aims to help firms abroad looking to expand into Switzerland, how is this happening?

We would be more than happy to do so.  Often companies want to have a bridgehead in Switzerland or in Europe. Switzerland is a privileged place, especially Geneva and our company is located a few minutes from the Geneva airport. This makes it very easy to get to.

Often we employ a person, domiciled in Switzerland, who, through our company, works within a legally compliant framework and we invoice the foreign company for the services provided by this person, settling of course all the issues related to VAT if applicable.

After the first phase the company can then decide whether it wants to establish a subsidiary in Switzerland and in this case we can assist it in establishing a Société Anonyme SA or a Société à Responsabilité Limitée SARL thanks to the excellent connections we have with notaries or lawyers.

5. You have a company in neighbouring France, what is its function?

We do have a company that is completely independent of the Thalent structure in Geneva.

It is an SAS, a simplified joint stock company, with which we work closely and which allows us to carry out operations in the European community in the event that having a company in Switzerland is not optimal.

We use our French company when, for reasons mainly related to VAT, it is easier to work with a company established in France and another country of the European Community.

6. So you can work with companies all over Europe but also all over the world?

Yes, we can do this directly from Thalent SA, for customers located in Europe and outside Europe such as the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. We work with the following 4 currencies: EUR, USD, GBP, CHF.

7. What do you think of the current situation of the Swiss labour market?

At the moment, we can see that for specialists, the current situation on the labour market is very favourable. As consultants are often very competent people, they have no difficulty in finding mandates.

This has been the case for several years now and perhaps the health crisis has made it even more so. The more specialised people are, the more in demand they are, and the more generalist skills people have, the more difficult it is for them to find work.

8. How does Thalent differ from other umbrella companies for the consultant?

We are one of the first companies active in this field in Switzerland with an experience of over 20 years. Our company is characterised by long-term relationships with consultants, as some of them have been working with Thalent for more than 15 years.

For these people, we have the advantage of being able to offer permanent contracts and not leasing contracts. The consultants can therefore present themselves to their clients as part of a team and a company with an excellent reputation.

9. Are there any values that you hold dear?

Of course there are. I would say the seriousness of our work, an extreme flexibility accompanied by a very high reactivity, a lot of care given to the service we provide and the personal contact with the consultants. There is a great deal of mutual trust between the company and the consultants.

10. What type of profiles does Thalent have among its ranks?

We have a technical focus, engineers or technicians, but we also have consultants active in business development, project management, human resources, translation, coaching, IT.  

11. You are an engineer, is there anything that an engineer will find in addition at Thalent because of that?

Very clearly a general understanding of the client and the fact that we can speak the same language with the client.

12. Entrepreneurship can be facilitated by an umbrella company. Can you explain this a little more?

The entrepreneur does not need to register as a freelancer, does not need to deal with all the administrative tasks and can concentrate on his core business. We also provide the necessary advice on drawing up offers and contracts with clients.

13. Can you give us 5 advantages of beeing a payrolling consultant?

  • Administrative simplification
  • Entitlement to unemployment benefits
  • Possibility of distribute the income as a salary over a long period
  • Quick start: no administrative procedures
  • Recognition by the market, which tends to give mandates to established companies rather than to self-employed people

14. Is there any advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?

The first advice I would give is to join us. This will give her or him the support they need to launch their business. It is up to him to decide whether he wants to register as a freelancer or create his own company. What is interesting to mention is that in the last ten years, none of our consultants have preferred to start their own company.

In some cases consultants have even set up their own company within Thalent, i.e. we have had several consultants working for the same client on the same project.

15. Do you have a success story that you have witnessed to share?

In addition to your previous question. One of our consultants who had achieved a significant turnover decided to set up her own company. After a few years she decided to put it on hold and to join Thalent again because she had noticed that the results were inferior both in terms of economics and management.

Interview by KF

Besure to regularly check our homepage and follow us on our social networks for more information regarding payrolling and becoming an independent consultant. If you like our posts we would be thankful if you could give us a like on LinkedIn or Facebook!

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    What is Payrolling, also called “Wage Portage” in Switzerland? Part 2/2

    7. Consultant start and end of contract with Thalent

    A. How does a start as a Consultant at Thalent.com go?

    Many umbrella companies charge a registration or start-up fee, this is not the case at Thalent SA.

    Our onboarding process consists of 3 steps:

    1. You leave us your contact details and we make an appointment by phone
    2. One of our experienced managers calls you back for a non-binding professional consultation
    3. You sign your contract with Thalent.com all digitally

    During the consultation our manager will assess

    • Your project, your activity
    • The state of progress of your contracts
    • Your professional situation

    He will then send you an email summarising the essential elements with a few documents that will enable Thalent to make you a contract proposal, all in electronic form or by post if you wish.

    There are no start-up costs as such and no minimum contract amount.

    B. What happens at the end of a contract as a Consultant at Thalent?

    At the end of a service or a fixed-term assignment, your employment contract is terminated.

    Within the framework of an open-ended assignment, you can resign or discuss the end of your contract with our company.

    Everything is done 100% digitally and there are no end of contract fees as such.

    Consultant Vertrag

    8. Client company start and end of contract with Thalent, the solutions

    A) How does a service contract to hire external Consultants using Thalent start?

    You leave us your contact details and we will arrange a telephone appointment.

    Typically we will contact you to discuss your staffing needs.

    We define with you the conditions of employment of the consultant(s) chosen by you whether you are a Swiss or foreign company.

    We can employ in Switzerland all Swiss and European nationals after having requested the necessary authorisations.

    Example: you are a French, English or American company, we can employ the designated person(s) in Switzerland.

    You sign a business-to-business contract with Thalent, without having to worry about labour law conditions, and all digitally.

    B) What about the duration of the contract for a company?

    The duration of the contract can be fixed when it is signed and can be extended very easily with an amendment.

    9. How is payrolling, “Wage Portage”, regulated in Switzerland?

    Payroll companies operate within a strictly controlled legal framework despite the fact that that there is no law as such that governs wage portage.

    It’s a tripartite relationship: the payroll which is also called umbrella company signs an employment contract and a payroll agreement with the freelance Consultant as well a service contract with the "client" company.

    The status, which is growing rapidly in Switzerland, is based jointly on the provisions of the Federal Act on Employment Services and the Hiring of Services (LSE/AVG) and the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO/OR).

    The LSE/AVG stipulates that "companies that carry out employment service and service leasing activities in Switzerland must apply to the authority of the canton in which they are established for a permit. If they furthermore wish to engage in cross-border activities, they must also have a federal licence issued by the Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)".

    Thalent has both a cantonal and a federal licence.

    Some of the key elements of the status are as follows:

    -The Consultant is looking himself for his clients and has them sign a contract with the payroll or umbrella company

    -There is a subordination relationship between the Consultant and the "client" company

    -The Consultant may be integrated or not in the "client" company for which the service is provided

    -The umbrella company delegates a large part of the management to the "client" company

    -The “client” gives instructions to the Consultant taking into account performance objectives

    -The Consultant carries out tasks according to a scope of work  

    -The Consultant is registered as an employee with the OASI (old-age and survivors' insurance).

    -The payroll company does not have "know how" of the sector of the Consultant nor work premises for him

    -The umbrella company bears the financial risk in the event of default by the Consultant

    -The umbrella company may or may not bear the financial risk in the event of non-payment by the client.

    -The payroll company assumes an obligation of means and not of result

    -The umbrella company hosts the Consultant from an administrative point of view only.


    10. A short history of payrolling or wage portage?

    New forms of employment and in particular payrolling or wage portage are on the rise all over the world. In Switzerland the trend is also strong, even though standard work employment contracts   can be terminated much more easily than in other countries.

    Wage portage improves the match between supply and demand.

    It meets several of the Consultant's expectations:

    • To benefit from a very great autonomy in the "client" relationship
    • Provide them with social protection
    • Without the hassle of setting up a business

    It meets several of the company's expectations:

    • It does not increase the wage bill since it involves the purchase of services
    • It enables performance and project-oriented work
    • For example, consultants can work on a project only for the duration of an assignment

    A) In Switzerland

    In Switzerland, Thalent SA was a pioneer in developing this new way of working.

    The company was founded in 2001 by Pierre Strübin, who is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors, and two other co-founding partners, electrical engineers like himself.  The idea came to life after the dismissal of experienced colleagues who had been made redundant as a result of corporate restructuring. However, these people were highly valued and their former clients continued to entrust them with mandates.

    Based on an idea already emerging in France, the idea emerged to create a company to serve these clients in Switzerland.

    In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, where wage portage is also on the rise, it is called Payrolling, or also Lohnträgerschaft.

    In Switzerland, payrolling or wage portage is based jointly on the Federal Act on Employment Services and the Hiring of Services (LSE/AVG) and the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO/OR).

    In 2008, a member of the Geneva Grand Council (Grand Conseil) asked the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) in a question whether it could consider using the tool in the fight against unemployment.

    The latter replied that since it was used mainly by men between 35 and 50 years of age and only concerning certain types of jobs and sectors, “it concerned populations that are not representative of the mass of local job seekers. Consequently, although the Council of State is determined to closely monitor the evolution of this way of working, it intends to give priority to the instruments and means currently applied with as purpose the rapid and sustainable reintegration of the local unemployed.”

    The Council of State therefore recognised the usefulness of payrolling or wage portage, but arguing that it is only used by a specific part of the population and types of jobs and sectors, refused to promote it in the fight against unemployment. This is still the case today.

    B) In France

    In France, this way of working was born in the 1980s and was set up by a non profit organisation whose aim was to reintegrate unemployed managers. The latter carried out fixed-term assignments, expertise or consultancy, with companies before being reintegrated into a permanent contract.

    In the beginning, mainly senior executives were targeted, but nowadays payrolling has been extended to a large number of jobs and professions.

    Accessibility to this way of working has been greatly facilitated by the arrival of new digital technologies.

    In France, the system was finally introduced into the Labour Code by Law No. 2008-5s96 of 25th June 2008 on the modernisation of the labour market.

    The following translated definition is included: "A set of organised contractual relations between a carrying (payroll, wage portage) company, a carried person (Consultant using the payrolls services, contractor) and client companies which comprises for the carried person (Consultant, contractor) the payroll and the payment of his service for the client by the carrying (payroll, wage portage) company".

    In France, it is estimated that in 2020 more than 90,000 people are using this way of working. Source : Catherine Doleux, “Chômage, tous vos droits 2020”.

    C) In the United Kingdom

    In the United Kingdom, the word Payrolling is used for this way of working. In other European countries the english sentence “Wage Portage” is also sometimes used. A Payroll Company is furthermore commonly called an Umbrella Company.

    Since April 2001 when the UK government introduced the "IR35" legislation which creates tests to determine employment status and the ability to make use of small company tax relief, payroll or umbrella companies have become very common. The legislation aims to avoid the non-payment of taxes.

    It is estimated that in the United Kingdom in 2020, out of 4'355'000 self-employed people, 400’000 are using an umbrella company. Sources : IPSE, The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, bbc.co.uk

    Besure to regularly check our homepage and follow us on our social networks for more information regarding payrolling and becoming an independent consultant. If you like our posts we would be thankful if you could give us a like on Linkedin or Facebook!

    Author : Kamil Fetouni

    What is Payrolling, also called “Wage Portage” in Switzerland? Part 1/2

    Have you ever heard of Payrolling, also known as "Wage Portage"?

    Payrolling, a service proposed by our Umbrella Company, is booming in Switzerland.

    It is a form of employment that offers many advantages for both long-term and short-term contracts and is equally suitable for both:

    1. Individuals wishing to become self-employed
    2. Companies wishing to work with staff without having to hire them

    It allows you to work in a very flexible way and to reduce administrative, accounting and legal constraints.

    It is based on a legal framework that allows a person to be employed by an Umbrella Company which is providing the payroll service such as Thalent.com and to contribute to social insurance while negotiating mandates with clients in a completely independent manner.

    1. As an autonomous, independent person:

    The main advantage is that you can work as a self-employed person but with the status of an employee and this without having to set up a company.

    You benefit from full social security coverage, because you become an employee of the umbrella company but manage your projects and clients in a completely independent way.

    • You are fully covered by social security: unemployment insurance, (OASI/DI, AVS/AI, AHV/IV) pension, 2nd pillar LPP, accident insurance, maternity benefit, etc.
    • You benefit from paid holidays
    • You avoid all the time-consuming compulsory administrative tasks that self-employed workers have to take care of
    • You can concentrate on your business without having to worry about accounting, legal and administrative operations

    We speak of a hybrid status for the payrolling person who is using wage portage. This way of working can be used by anyone who is entitled to work in Switzerland.

    At Thalent.com we call the freelancer who is using our payroll services, a Consultant.

    2. As a Swiss or foreign company

    If your company is looking to recruit one or more employees for a short or medium-term assignment, payrolling or “wage portage” allows you to:

    • Avoid having to increase the number of permanent employees in the wage bill
    • Establish service contracts with consultants with expertise that you do not have in-house
    • Work with consultants based in Switzerland
    • Free you from payroll and employee management tasks
    • Reduce the tax costs of your operations

    The contractor, or as we call him the Consultant, who is using the payroll service is employed by our Swiss Umbrella Thalent.com and performs a service for you. He does not have the status of a self-employed person and you do not need to hire him.

    Thalent.com sends you an invoice at the end of each month for the services performed, which you pay as when you would pay any service company or supplier.

    By using external payroll service providers, your company avoids many restrictive and time-consuming administrative procedures and will be able to optimise its project outsourcing strategy.

    3. Thalent.com services for the Consultant

    These are the services that Thalent.com covers for the consultant :

    • Salaried employment contract (fixed-term, open-ended or hourly)
    • Invoicing and reminders, VAT management
    • Reimbursement of travel and related expenses
    • Free advice for customer contracts
    • Relations with the tax administration, the inhabitant and working permits office
    • Paid holidays
    • Withholding tax
    • Full social security cover with a choice of options for the LPP pension fund, 2nd pillar :

    AHV: Old-age and survivors' insurance

    AI: Disability insurance and income compensation benefits

    AAP: Occupational Accident Insurance with SUVA and supplementary insurance

    AANP: Non-occupational accident insurance at SUVA and supplementary insurance

    RC: Adapted professional liability insurance

    MUV/AMat/MUV: Maternity allowance

    ALV, AC, ALV:Unemployment Insurance

    OP/LPP/BVG: Pillar 2 pension fund with a full choice of options among the plans available from the CIEPP Fund of the Fédération des Entreprises Romandes (FER).

    4. Contracts and 3 party relationship

    Wage portage implies a 3 party contractual relationship:

    1. The Consultant, the person who is Payrolling and performing the service 
    2. The "client" company
    3. The Wage Portage or Payroll company, such as Thalent SA for example

    This tripartite relationship involves 2 contracts:

    • A contract of employment between the freelance Consultant and the Umbrella Company
    • A service contract between the “client” company of the freelance Consultant and the Umbrella Company

    As a Consultant, you are legally employed by our payroll company and perform services for the "client" company. You receive a salary and Thalent SA pays the social insurances (employee and employer's share) as well as other mandatory charges.

    As the “client” company, you are invoiced by the umbrella company which will also take care of all the various administrative tasks on behalf of the Consultant who is using the Payroll services.

    5. Salary of the Consultant, treasury, payment of client invoices

    As the Consultant, you send the umbrella company at the end of each month an activity report that will serve as the basis for invoicing the "client" company.

    The umbrella company will then pay you your net salary which is calculated from the amount invoiced to the "client" company, after deduction of employee and employer charges and deductions regarding withholding tax if applicable.

    As for a self-employed person you can calculate your salary using our salary simulator.

    The payroll umbrella company receives the payment of the invoices, but Thalent will pay you at the end of the month, before the client has paid his invoice. This means that you receive an advance on your salary because the client has not yet paid.

    This cash advance is therefore an advantage, because you do not have to wait for your client's payment to receive a salary.

    Not all umbrella companies give this cash advance but with Thalent.com you will benefit from it automatically.

    6. Jobs and sectors

    Payrolling works well with a multitude of jobs and sectors:

    Information Technology



    Linguistics and translations


    Marketing and communication

    Home Office, Remote Working


    Quality Control and Quality Assurance


    Human Resources


    Sales and Business Development


    Accounting and Fiduciary

    You can find the The second part of this article here on our blog.

    Besure to regularly check our homepage and follow us on our social networks for more information regarding payrolling and becoming an independent consultant. If you like our posts we would be thankful if you could give us a like on Linkedin or Facebook!

    Author : Kamil Fetouni

    Welcome to our new website!

    We are pleased to present to you our new visual corporate identity and website.

    We have made the visual identity more modern and have implemented new functionalities to ease the process of contacting us. We now also offer simple, clear and intuitive ways to find information about our umbrella company and payrolling which is also called wage portage.

    The site is now published in 3 languages including on social networks, so we can better cover Switzerland, in particular the Swiss German part.

    We also want to address a broader audience of consultants or companies in Switzerland or abroad.

    Two of the new features of our new website:

    • Our blog which allows us to share with you actualised information on payrolling for autonomous consultants, information about the job market, our news, news from our sector, events, articles on personal development or coaching, on how to develop your business or interviews with consultants.
    • Our Hire a consultant profile section that allows you to search in our database of consultants that are available for additional work. You can search by keywords and then contact them through us.

    We hope you enjoy browsing through our new website and hope that you will find relevant information.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need specific information about our payroll, wage portage service.

    Your Thalent.com Team


    Kamil Fetouni: Marketing concept, copywriting, Projectmanagement

    Mark Streatfield: Visual concept and Design