Last updated on: April 27th, 2022

Labor Requirements

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

Normal Working Hours

The maximum weekly working hours is 45 hours for employees working in industrial companies as well as for office staff, technical, sales staff and 50 hours for all other employees.

 

For certain categories of employees, the maximum weekly hours can be extended by a maximum of 4 hours provided that it does not exceed the annual average based on approval from the government authorities.

 

Day and evening work

Work performed between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. is considered day work, and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. is considered evening work. The day and evening work of the individual employee, including breaks and overtime, must be within 14 hours.

 

The beginning and end of day work and evening work can be determined differently between 5 a.m. and midnight if the employee representation in the company or, where there is no such representation, the majority of the employees concerned agree. Daytime and evening work, i.e. work carried out between 6 am and 11 pm may not exceed the timeframe of 17 hours.

 

Compensation for lost working hours

In case, work has been suspended due to operational reasons, or company holidays, or if an employee is granted a non-working day on his/her request, in such situations, an employer can deviate from the maximum weekly working time in such a manner that compensated work performed by an employee does not exceed 2 hours per day including overtime, except on non-working days or half days.

 

Shift Work

The working hours of an employee shall be arranged in a manner that an employee does not have to work the same shift for more than 6 consecutive weeks. In the case of two-shift work during the day and in the evening, the employee shall have an equal share in both shifts. The 6 consecutive weeks time period can be extended with the consent of the employee. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, arts. 9 – 11 and 25  (Last amended 2021).

Overtime

There are two categories of overtime: Overtime and Extra Hours.

 

Overtime

When working hours exceed the contractual normal working hours or the maximum number of working hours per week. The maximum weekly working hours are 45 or 50 depending on the sector of the employees.

 

Premium for Overtime

Overtime must be compensated with a premium of 25%. Overtime may also be compensated with time off of at least the same duration in lieu of a monetary premium.  Where the overtime is not compensated by time off in lieu and unless otherwise agreed in writing or under a standard employment contract or collective employment contract, the employer must compensate the employee for the overtime worked by paying him his normal salary and a premium of at least 25%.

 

For employees working in large retail undertakings [office staff, technical employees, and others, including the sales staff ] the employer shall pay overtime wage only where overtime work exceeds 60 hours in a calendar year.

 

Employees are required to work overtime provided the work is necessary, is not physically and mentally overwhelming, considered reasonable and working hours and rest periods are provided. 

 

Extra Hours

Extra hours accrue when working hours exceed the statutory maximum number of working hours per week. The maximum weekly working hours are 45 or 50 depending on the sector of the employees. Extra hours shall not exceed 2 hours per day except on non-working working days or in emergencies. Extra hours for employees with a working week of 45 hours, shall not exceed 170 hours per calendar year and 140 hours for employees with 50 hours working week.

 

Pay – An employee who works for extra hours shall be compensated with a premium of at least 25%. An employee can also opt-in for a time in lieu of the same duration for the extra hours work performed, in which case, shall not be compensated with extra premium.

Example: During a specific week, an employee works 52 hours, which amounts to seven hours overtime, since the company has a maximum of 45 working hours per week. If the company had a statutory 40-hour week, an additional five hours would be considered to be overtime. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, arts. 12 – 13 and The code of Obligations, art. 321c B.

Night Work

Work performed between 11 pm and 6 am is considered night work. Employees shall not work more than 9 hours in any 10 hours period, including breaks during the night. 

 

In case, the employee works for a maximum of 3 out of 7 consecutive nights, the daily working time maybe 10 hours however, including the breaks, it must be within a period of 12 hours. There are two kinds of night work – 

      • Temporary night work is generally understood as working occasionally or regularly at night for up to 3 months in any calendar year; or working at night for up to 6 months per calendar year for fixed-term employment of an exceptional nature.
      • Any work extending beyond these limits is considered to be regular night work.

Pay for Night Work

For temporary night work, a premium of 25% must be paid for work carried out between 11 pm and 6 am for up to 25 or more nights in a calendar year. 

 

For permanent or regularly recurring night work, employees are entitled to time off equal to 10% of the hours worked during night time. This leave must be granted within one year. For employees who regularly work in the evening or in the morning for a maximum of 1 extra hour during the night, compensation can also be granted as a premium.

 

There is no entitlement for compensation in the form of time equal to 10 % if the average shift time including breaks, does not exceed 7 hours, or if the employee working at night is employed for only 4 nights per week, or if the employee is granted other equivalent compensatory rest periods within 1 year by means of the collective labor agreement, etc. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, arts.16 – 17e.

Breaks

An employee is entitled to breaks of the following minimum duration:

      • 15 minutes with a daily working time of more than 5.5 hours;
      • 30 minutes with a daily working time of more than 7 hours;
      • 1 hour with a daily working time of more than 9 hours.

The breaks are considered as working time if the employees are not allowed to leave their place of work. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, art. 15  (Last amended 2021).

 

Daily Rest

An employee is entitled to at least 11 consecutive hours of rest per day. The rest period can be reduced to 8 hours provided that the 11 hours are maintained for an average of 2 weeks. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, art. 15a  (Last amended 2021). 

 

Weekly Rest

An employee is entitled to 1 day off each week and such a day should generally be a Sunday. In cases where it is not possible to provide time off on a Sunday, a full weekday can be provided as a weekly off day. In special circumstances, an employee may also be allowed two half days rest instead of 1 full day, with his/her consent. The Code of Obligations, art.329, Art 19-20 Labor Act,1964 (Last amended 2021).

 

Weekly half-day: An employee whose weekly working time is spread over more than 5 days per week, must be granted a half-day off of 8 hours each week, either before or following the daily rest period with the exception of weeks in which a day off falls.

 

The employer may grant free half-days for a maximum of 4 consecutive weeks, with the consent of the employee, wherein the maximum weekly working time must be adhered to on average. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, art.21

Work On Rest Days

Employees may work on a rest day on a temporary basis. Employees shall be entitled to a 50% premium for such work performed. The weekly day of rest must fall on Sunday at least once every two weeks, immediately before or after the daily rest. The Code of Obligations, art.329, Art 19-20 Labor Act,1964 (Last amended 2021). 

Sunday Work

Weekly rest shall usually fall on a Sunday. Sunday is defined as the time between 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 p.m. on Sunday. The duration can be brought forward or postponed by a maximum of 1 hour if the employee representation in the company or, where there is no such representation, the majority of the employees concerned agree.

 

Within two weeks, at least one full Sunday must be given as a weekly rest day immediately before or after the daily rest period. In cases where an employer requires an employee to work on Sunday, the employee may not work for more than 6 days consecutively.

 

Pay for Sunday Work

An employer shall not employ an employee to work on a Sunday without the employee’s consent. An employee who works on a temporary basis shall be compensated at a 50% premium for work performed.

 

Employees involved in permanent Sunday work are not entitled to extra premium but they shall be entitled to time off as applicable to temporary Sunday employees. In cases, where the Sunday work lasts for 5 hours, the employee must be compensated with an equivalent amount of free time within 4 weeks, and where the work lasts for more than 5 hours, the employee shall be granted a substitute rest period of 24 hours during the preceding or the following week running consecutively with the daily rest period.

 

The employer may call on the employees to work temporarily during the compensatory rest, insofar as this is necessary to prevent the spoilage of goods or to avoid or eliminate operational disruptions; however, another compensatory rest must be granted in the following week at the latest. Labor Act, ArG, 1964, arts.18 – 20a.

Public Holidays

In Switzerland, there are 26 cantons (states) and each canton sets its public holidays independently. August 1st (national holiday) is the only federal holiday. The labor law equates it to Sunday. The cantons can make a maximum of eight other public holidays a year on Sunday.  In most Cantons, the following are 9 legally recognized public holidays are generally observed:

      • New Year’s Day – January 1
      • Good Friday
      • Easter Monday
      • Labour Day – May 1
      • Ascension Day – May 26
      • Whit Monday
      • National Day – Aug 1
      • Christmas Day – Dec 25
      • St. Stephen’s Day – Dec 26

If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it will not be moved to a weekday.

 

Pay for Work on Public Holiday

The compensation for working on public holidays is regulated in the same manner as Sunday. Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to a 50 percent premium in addition to their regular rate of pay. Employers may only select employees who consent to work on holidays. 

 

In cases, where the work lasts for 5 hours, the employee must be compensated with an equivalent amount of free time within 4 weeks, and where the work lasts for more than 5 hours, the employee shall be granted a substitute rest period of 24 hours during the preceding or the following week running consecutively with the daily rest period. Swiss Code of Obligations, March 30, 1911, art. 78.

Annual Leave

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.

Minimum Wage

Switzerland does not have a mandated minimum wage.

 

Bonus

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. 

Special Leave

Sick Leave

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).

Maternity Leave

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).

Leave for Injured or Sick Child

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 Responsibility Leave

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.

Leave for Extra-Curricular Activities

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.

Leave to care for relatives

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.