Last updated on: April 27th, 2022
The labor relationship in Switzerland is mainly regulated by the Federal Code of Obligations 1911 (amended as of January 2022) sets out standards on matters including employment contracts and termination of employment, while the Federal Labor Act, 1964 (amended as of January 2021) contains standards for many conditions of employment, including hours of work and overtime pay.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Employees are entitled to 4 weeks of paid vacation per year, of which at least 2 weeks must be consecutive. Where an employee has not yet completed one year’s service, his holiday entitlement is fixed pro-rata. Employees under the age of 20 are entitled to five weeks of paid vacation.
An employer cannot pay employees in lieu of granting them time to take a vacation, and unused vacation generally cannot be carried over to the following year. In cases where a public holiday falls during an annual vacation, the vacation period shall be extended accordingly. Swiss Code of Obligations, March 30, 1911, art. 329 (a)(c).
Reduction of Annual Leave
- Where in a given year of service the employee through his own fault is prevented from working for more than a month in total, the employer may reduce his holiday entitlement by one-twelfth for each full month of absence.
- Where the total absence does not exceed one month in a given year of service and is the result of personal circumstances for which the employee is not at fault, such as illness, accident, legal obligations, public duties or leave for youth work, the employer is not entitled to reduce his holiday entitlement.
- The employer may not reduce the holiday entitlement of a female employee who is prevented from working by pregnancy for up to 2 months or has received maternity benefits.
- A standard employment contract or collective employment contract may derogate from the above conditions if it gives employees terms of at least equal benefit.
Swiss Code of Obligations, art. 329b&c.
Switzerland does not have a mandated minimum wage.
Where the employer pays a bonus over and above the salary on particular occasions, such as at Christmas or the end of the financial year, the employee is entitled to such a bonus where it is contractually stipulated. If the employment relationship ends prior to the occasion on which the bonus is paid, the employee is entitled to a pro-rata bonus where the contract so provides. The code of Obligations(amended Dec 2019) art. 322d.
All employees residing or gainfully employed in Switzerland are entitled to sickness benefits. The insured pays premiums, which vary depending on the fund, the type of benefits provided, the age first insured, and the canton. Employers are not required by law to contribute, but some collective agreements require the employer to share employees’ membership fees.
Swiss law requires employers to continue to pay employees who are unable to work due to illness for up to 3 weeks in the first year of employment and for longer periods at full pay proportionate to longer periods of employment. Cantons specify sick leave limits after an employee’s first year. Employers may require a medical certificate for any absence longer than 3 consecutive days due to sickness. Swiss Code of Obligations, March 30, 1911, art. 328(a).
All employees are entitled to maternity leave for 14 weeks after the birth of a child.
Pay – An employee who has worked at least five out of the nine months before birth may receive 80 percent of her regular pay as a daily allowance subject to a maximum of 196 francs per day from Social security. Female employees who have recently given birth may not be employed for 8 weeks after the birth and then only with their consent up to the 16th week.
There are no specific provisions for maternity leave before the birth of a child, but pregnant employees can take sick leave during this time if they cannot work. Female employees may not work during the first 8 weeks after the birth. Pregnant women may not be employed between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. from the 8th week before the birth.
Breastfeeding Break – Employees must be given time for breastfeeding and expressing milk. This time counts as paid work time (at least 30 minutes per day of work of up to 4 hours; 60 minutes per day of work of more than 4 hours; and 90 minutes per day of work of more than 7 hours). Swiss Code of Obligations, March 30, 1911, art. 329(a)(c); Federal Law on Work in Industry, Trade, and Commerce of March 13, 1964, arts. 35(b).
An employee who has a seriously ill child or a child impaired due to an accident is entitled to a paid leave for a maximum period of 14 weeks. If both parents are employed, each parent is entitled to childcare leave of a maximum of seven weeks. Leave can be taken at one go or by the day. This leave shall be taken within a time period of 18 months calculated from the first day, the daily allowance has been drawn. Swiss Code of Obligations(amended Dec 2019) art. 329h.
Family responsibilities include bringing up children up to the age of 15 and caring for relatives or close people in need of care. Such employees may only be required to do overtime work with their consent. At their request, they are to be granted a lunch break of at least 1.5 hours.
On presentation of a medical certificate, the employer must grant the employee leave to look after a family member or partner with a health condition; the leave is limited to the duration required for the care but is a maximum of 3 days per event. With the exception of children, the care leave is a maximum of 10 days per year. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, arts. 36.
Employees under 30 years of age are entitled to 1 week of leave without pay per year to do volunteer work for a social or cultural organization. Any leave for youth work not taken by the end of the calendar year is forfeited. Leave days not taken expire at the end of the calendar year.
Leave for Military Duty – In addition, employers must provide leaves of absence to employees for the performance of their compulsory military duties. Swiss Code of Obligations, March 30, 1911, arts. 329.
The employee is entitled to paid leave for the time necessary to care for a family member or partner with a health condition; however, leave is a maximum of three days per event and a maximum of ten days per year. Swiss Code of Obligations(amended Dec 2019) art. 329g.