Employment Law In Switzerland

Author:Ms Amanda Caldwell
Profession:Fisher & Phillips LLP

Switzerland is a democratic country with a population of almost 8 million people, located in the heart of Europe and comprised of 26 cantons, also known as districts, that operate utilizing three official languages: French, German and Italian. Each canton has its own constitution, legislature, government and courts. Due to Switzerland's advanced infrastructure, skilled workforce, and unlike many of its European counterparts, its ability to maintain a growing and stable economy, it is a very attractive place for employers to do business. Employment law in Switzerland is significantly more liberal than this area of law in most other European countries. Nevertheless, there are federal and local employment and labor laws that govern contracts, wage and hour, discrimination, terminations, lay-offs and privacy. Any company conducting business in Switzerland or considering doing so should be familiar with the various laws which govern the employment relationship. The purpose of this article, which is the first in a series, is to provide an introduction to the key elements of employment law in Switzerland. This article will cover the sources of law governing the employment relationship, the various types of employment contracts, wage and hour law, and laws pertaining to holidays and time off.

I. Sources of Law Employment law in Switzerland is governed by several sources of law including: (1) the Swiss Code of Obligations (Code des obligations Suisse), Articles 319 to 343, comprised of Switzerland's mandatory and discretionary labor relationship rules applicable to the employer; (2) the Federal Act on Equal Treatment of Women and Men, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in both private and public employment relationships; (3) Federal Labor Statutes, which contain provisions primarily focused on ensuring the health and safety of employees working in specified industries; and (4) the Federal Statute on the Information and Consultation of Employees in the enterprises. II. Employment Contracts Written contracts in Switzerland, although recommended, are not required by law; as such contracts may be oral or written. The following terms of employment should be included in any written contract:

Title of position; Start date; Whether there is a probationary period, governed by Article 335c of the Swiss Code of Obligations, which can vary from one to three months; The length of the contract, specifying whether the term...

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