Questions On Employment Law In Switzerland

The Swiss labour market is competitive, potential employees need to learn about their rights should a job opening become available. For starters we will consider the rights of the employee including facts on entitlements and work ethic. Some of the issues discussed include entitlement to holidays, minimum wage, labour disputes, termination of contract and absence from work.

What are the Entitlement to Holidays and Public Holidays?

The Swiss labour law entitles employees to at least four weeks holiday per year, additionally various cantons designate a maximum of eight additional public holidays which may vary from one canton to the other.

What is the Minimum Wage in Switzerland?

The Swiss law does not stipulate a specific minimum wage or average earnings, however in most circumstances the wage will be decided in an agreement between the employer and employee during recruitment. Switzerland has an equal pay constitution enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

In addition to fair compensation, the constitution stipulates that both sexes must be equally compensated for their work. In certain circumstances professions with weak union representation who are not covered by collective agreements are issued employment contracts by the government itself.

Who to contact when a Labour Dispute Arises?

Labour disputes arise from a number of factors; issues include pay and working hours to discrimination or an appeal against dismissal. Several factors will affect the way a dispute is resolved. These include the type of labour relation governed by public or private law and the number of individuals involved whether it is collective or individual disputes.

For individual disputes each canton has a special court, court fees will not be required for disputes not exceeding claims of CHF 30,000. Nevertheless for claims exceeding CHF 30,000 parties must pay court fees. When an individual dispute arises federal employees will need to contact the responsible administrative office. For collective disputes the cantonal conciliation boards are responsible.

In cases of discrimination, unequal treatment and sexual harassment, employees must contact the conciliation board before taking legal action. Furthermore the victim has the right to bring charges against the offender in cases of bullying, assault or sexual harassment.

How should you Terminate the Employment Relationship?

If you do not have a proper fixed term contract with your employer then either party may terminate the contract at any time. The contract could be terminated verbally, however in most situations it is customary and advisable to send a notice letter by registered mail and ask for acknowledgment of receipt for confirmation. The letter should reach your employer on the last workday of the month. Important details included would be information about the employee and employer, the type of employment contract you are terminating and the termination date, all information must be signed and dated.

What are valid reasons for Absence from work?

In Switzerland you can be absent from work for valid reasons i.e. accident, pregnancy and maternity, legal obligations and public office. Additional reasons include, marriage, birth of your children, death of a relative, and moving home. There is no obligation to make up for lost working time; nevertheless your employer must be notified.

In case of prolonged illness employers are required to pay employees their full wages for a certain period of time, the code of obligations stipulates that the minimum duration is three weeks during the first year of employment. If you fall sick during your probation or trial months you are not protected from having your employment terminated. However your employer should not terminate your employment due to illness or pregnancy.


FERZ SA provides timely consultation on issues arising from work disputes. Our experienced team will advise you on how to manage and resolve legal employment disputes, settlement agreements, equal pay claims and much more.