Overview of Swiss Labor Laws

Posted on 12 February 2007 by LegalBeagle

The Employment contract between the employer and employee sets down the working relationship in writing.
The law does not foresee any special form for this contract, but there are a few important points of an employment contract:

>> the trial period may not exceed 3 months
>> the employment contract contain any ‘immoral’ or illegal tasks
>> the period of notice must be clearly stated

The General Labour Agreement (GLA) is a contract between employer(s) or their representatives and employees’ federations or trade unions and governs employment relationships. A GLA is relevant when employees and employers belong to affiliated federation or trade union or if its applicability has been agreed in some other way.

If the GLA has been declared generally binding by the competent authority, it is applied for the relevant branch irrespective of federation or trade union membership and only provisions that are more favourable for the employee may be included in the individual employment contract.

A limited employment contract, of a duration defined by both contracting parties expires at the end of the period agreed. Generally, this type of contract cannot be terminated in advance.

An unlimited employment contract (the duration of which is not fixed) may be terminated by one of the two parties taking accout of the period of notice stipulated in the contract and the date for giving such notice. The notice period is 7 days during the 3-month trial period, then one month. After 1 year, the notice period becomes 2 months. After 5 years, it becomes 3 months. If requested, the party giving notice must give written reasons for his decision.

Minimum Wage
A statutory minimum wage does not exist in Switzerland, though some GLA’s stipulate minimum wages for certain sectors (such as the hotel industry). According to law, employeees are entitled to specially indexed remuneration for night or weekend work, as well as work on public holidays.

In Switzerland there is still a certain holdover of the principle of ‘seniority.’ Nonetheless, things are gradually moving to a system of results-oriented remuneration both in the private sector and (of course more slowly) in the public sector. There remain appreciable discrepancies between women’s and men’s wages for the same level of professional qualifications.

Working Hours
Legally, the maximum working time is 45 hours a week for industrial and white collar employees — office staff,
technical personnel and other employees, including sales assistants in large retail businesses. For other salaried persons, the maximum is supposed to be 50 hours.

Vacation Allotments
By law the minimum entitlement is fixed at four weeks for employees and apprentices over 20 years of age.

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