Anyone who is gainfully employed in Switzerland is protected by Swiss labor law and is also subject to its rules. We explain everything you need to know about employment law in Switzerland and what rights and obligations you have as part of your employment.

The employment contract

An employment contract with a Swiss employer should contain all information about how your employment relationship is structured. This includes:

  • Number of hours worked per week
  • Vacation entitlement / number of vacation weeks/days
  • Place of work, where the work is to be performed
  • Entitlement to remote work, if applicable
  • Duration of the probationary period or waiver thereof

The maximum working time for employees in industrial plants, office and sales personnel is 45 hours per week and may not be exceeded.

Probationary period

As a rule, an unlimited employment relationship begins with a probationary period. The duration is usually specified in the employment contract and varies from employer to employer. It may not exceed three months.

During the probationary period, there is no protection against dismissal for the employee in the event of illness, accident or pregnancy. The probationary period may be extended by the employer in the event of accident or illness.

Both the employee and the employer may terminate the employment relationship during the probationary period with 7 days’ notice (to the end of any day) without giving any reason. The condition is that the notice of termination is received by the other party during the probationary period.

Termination of the employment relationship

Longer notice periods apply after the probationary period. These are based on the duration of the previous employment relationship:

  • 1 month for a period of employment of up to one year
  • 2 months for a period of employment between more than one year and less than ten years
  • 3 months for a period of employment of more than ten years

In all cases, the termination shall take effect at the end of the month in which it is received by the employer. The indication of a reason for termination is voluntary.

Example:

You have been working for your employer for five years and want to give notice as soon as possible. Your notice period is 2 months. If you hand in your notice on May 1, it will take effect on May 31. This means that your employment relationship will then continue until July 31.

During the notice period, the salary will continue to be paid as usual. If a 13th month’s salary has been agreed in the employment contract, this will be paid pro rata with the last regular monthly salary. The remaining leave can be taken by the employee if no compensation for the remaining leave is agreed with the employer.

When may the employer not terminate?

In the following cases, it is excluded that the employer may terminate the employee after the expiration of the probationary period:

  • during pregnancy and during the first 16 weeks after birth
  • during military service, and 4 weeks before/after, if the period of service exceeds 11 days
  • In the event of absence due to illness or accident during the first
    • 30 days in the first year of employment
    • 90 days in the 2nd to 5th year of employment
    • 180 days from the 6th year of employment

Example:

You have been working in a permanent employment relationship for 7 months and become ill. During the first 30 days from the date of the sick leave, the employer may not terminate your employment. However, he has the right to terminate your employment from day 31, even if you are still sick then.

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