How to choose payroll / umbrella company?

**Not strictly an investment question, but financially important nonetheless ***

Dear All,

My wife interviewed for a job in big pharma and was been selected. They wanted to hire her 100% on permanent contract. But due to personal / family reasons my wife does not want to work more than 80%. After some reluctance, the company agreed but offered 80% workload on external contract but for ‘unlimited time’ (communicated over phone).

They will send job advert to vendors / umbrella companies in 2-3 days and will tell the one she chooses that they have selected her already. The manager has some existing team members on Hays contracts but he says that the choice of payroll / umbrella company is up to my wife completely.

The manager told her that the vendor (s?) will make her the offer of compensation, and has not given us the hourly rate that they are going to pay to the vendor.

How do we go about it? Is there any material difference between Hays/Randstad/Manpower/Adecco/ etc etc , etc in terms of:

  • pension contributions?
  • sick leaves, etc
  • any other support
  • pension plan (any experience which of these vendors have better pension funds with good coverage ratios ?)

Is it possible that they offer very different salaries / hourly rates)? I understand that all of AHV (~10%), BVG/LLP (10%), sickness leave contribution, and taxes will come out of her hourly rate.

Should we contact many of them to ask for offers, or just I go with the one they suggested (Hays).

Thanks a lot,

So if she were to work 100% she would be an internal, but if she works only 80% she’s subcontracted through an external company? :astonished:

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Ya, I also thought that is kind of fishy…For me that would be a big red flag.

Especially I do not get the logic. Most people who work 80% do more than 80% of the performance of a 100%er, and it is actually much cheaper, so actually would be a win win. And why go through an external which will increase the cost like fuck ?

I don’t get the logic…

For 100%, there were considering both permanent and external contract. At 80%, permanent was no go for them.

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Beyond me too. But to be clear, they were thinking between permanent and external for 100%(no decision was made). They even asked her what she would choose it was 0 or 100. When my wife said absolute NO to 100%, then they came up with this.

And 1 more thing, in between they asked my wife about 80% external contract till Dec 2021 and then ‘she makes her mind’ about 100% (internal we believe). My wife said NO. She cannot promise anything more than 80% for next few years. (We have nearly 1 year old baby)

Big red flag for me to be honest…
I mean through how much corporate bullshit you have to go through to come up with that…

Except if it is a dream job, you are with the foot against a wall or else I would think to give it a pass…

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I wouldn’t get too hung up on this whole 80% external thing. Plenty of companies have silly blanket rules in place like no part time work or only contractors due to headcount freezes etc. If you’re going to work with big companies you have to accept this sort of bullshit I’m afraid

As for how to to choose which one to go with, speak to a couple and see if there is any difference in fees I guess. My wife is with Helvetic Payroll and hasn’t had any problems. She pays all the taxes and social charges out of the hourly rate so make sure you factor that in when you negotiate the rate. Her monthly pay varies according to how many days she actually works so prepare for low paid months when you take vacations.

She ended up with a pillar two from Swiss Life where she had some option around how much she contributed. I think that sick pay and anything else are probably standard. I expect there will be some difference in fees but it will be structured in a fairly non transparent way so you’ll need to ask for simulations from the different providers to understand how it all works.

Definitely hold on to the 80%. Time a scarce commodity with young kids.



Huge red flag going up for me here!

This is called bodyleasing. It means that the company she’s now interviewed with doesn’t have any social responsibility towards her whatsoever. They would just be a customer of the umbrella company who happen to buy your wive’s services from them. If they want to get rid of her, they just tell the umbrella company that they want somebody else. Accordingly, pension fund and all else would be what the umbrella company is offering.


Risk management.

Depending on what’s in the contract between the pharma company and the subcontractor they might be able to request a new resource, or no resource at all, within days or weeks.

They seem to think that a 100% allocation is ok but 80% might not work out, so they want to be flexible.

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And by then there’s a nice headcount freeze and the offer is off the table…

this was indeed a point the manager raised. Having work timing issues with some previous employees with 80% workloads before. its a scientific lab based job with pre-planned ( and often long) daily experiments (unlike my job where I punch keys and can be extremely flexible with day / night/week/weekend)

also my wife is currently not employed. this is the only job offer in hand (so to say), and good opportunity for her job growth and prospects. she has had interviews for another job (process ongoing) for which we would need to move cities (I am fine with it) and find new apartment (more work).

So the ‘option’ she currently has is limited to choosing vendor.


Adding to what Rinch says. If she can choose any umbrella payroll company on the market then Helvetic Payroll are a good option. They charge 3-10% according to their website.

Alternatively they may give you a shortlist of their preferred external staffing suppliers (Hays, etc). In this case she could contact them and ask what charge out rate they would propose to Big Pharma Co and commission

Working for Big Pharma Co as an external has some advantages. It can open doors, build network and enrich CV.


Indeed. I joined the same pharma company as permanent employee this month.

I worked with Helvetic Payroll, I was charged 3%. The final client for my case defined that rate.
Nothing bad to say, I had no trouble with them. It is also my unique experience with this kind of company.

Wait in Switzerland you can anyway fire with a 1 months notice, not much risk there…

Depends on contracts.

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I’m my own contract, the notice period is 1 month in first year, 3 months after the first year, and 6 months after the age of 45

The drawback of having a shorter termination time on contract being that the employee can also leave the company within one month. The external company may offer some guarantees regarding that (i.e.: shorter termination delay while maintaining someone available during the time it takes to fill the position in a more permanent fashion).

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