Working Conditions in Switzerland

1. Minimum Working Conditions

In Switzerland, the most important conditions of an employment contract are provided by statutory law and by the applicable collective agreement (if any). In particular, collective agreements set the terms and conditions of employment, which include, amongst others: categories and related job descriptions; duties and obligations; minimum wages; job retention rights during absences due to illness; salary increases due to length of service; termination, resignation, criteria for calculation of the severance pay; night work; maternity leave; and holidays.

2. Salary

Salary is usually paid at the end of the calendar month deducting all applicable social security contributions and withholding taxes (if any). Swiss law explicitly provides that the salary paid to employees must be stated in a pay slip.

3. Maximum Working Week

In the majority of Swiss companies, the normal weekly working hours under an employment contract of a collective bargaining agreement are between 40 and 44 hours. The legal maximum weekly working hours are 45 for industrial workers, office, technical and other employees including salespersons in large retail stores; for all other commercial enterprises, the legal maximum weekly working hours are 50.

4. Overtime

By statutory law, overtime must be compensated with an additional premium of 25%. It is, however, permissible to agree in writing that overtime work will not be compensated with an additional premium or even not compensated at all.

Excess working hours are the hours worked in excess of the legal maximum weekly working hours. To safeguard the employee’s health, the Federal Labor Act prohibits more than two hours per day of excess working hours; in a calendar year, an employee may not work more than 170 excess working hours (where the weekly maximum is 45 hours) or 140 excess working hours (where the weekly maximum is 50 hours).

5. Holidays

The minimum paid annual holiday entitlement in Switzerland for all employees is four weeks. In addition, and depending on the canton in which they work, employees enjoy between five and fifteen public holidays per year.

6. Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace

Occupational health and safety in Switzerland is primarily based on two laws: the Work Act and the Accident Insurance Act. Occupational diseases are covered by the Accident Insurance Act, whilst the Work Act deals with general occupational health and hygiene. The Work Act consists of two main sections: firstly concerning work and rest periods, and secondly with occupational safety and health.

The Accident Insurance Act deals with compensation and prevention of accidents and occupational diseases. It regulates compulsory accident insurance (Compulsory Accident Insurance Regulation – UVV), accident prevention and the prevention of occupational diseases (Accident Prevention Regulation – VUV).

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Switzerland, please contact Humbert Heinzen Lerch
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