This article is the second in a series which provides an introduction to the key elements of employment law in Switzerland. Although Swiss employment law is rather liberal in character when compared to employment laws of other nations, there are some limitations on the employer and requirements that each employer doing business in Switzerland should be aware of. This article will provide an introduction to the laws applicable to employment terminations including required notice provisions, reasons for terminating the employment relationship that are considered lawful and unlawful and potential liability for the employer who fails to comply with Swiss law.
If the employment relationship is governed by a fixed term contract, the relationship will automatically terminate on the date specified in the employment contract without notice required by either the employer or employee. However, if the employment relationship is not governed by a fixed term contract, the employer or employee can terminate the contract at any time as long as the terminating party complies with mandatory notice provisions. Minimum notice provisions are governed by the employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. If there is no formal contract between the parties, the required notice is then governed by Article 335 of the Swiss Code of Obligations ("the Code"). Pursuant to the Code, the following amount of notice is required by law:
7 days during the probationary period (usually the first month of employment but not more than the first three months of employment); 1 month during the first year of employment; 2 months for the 2nd to 9th year of employment; and 3 months for the 10th year of service and thereafter. II. Prohibited Reasons for Terminations
Pursuant to Article 336(c) of the Code, a Swiss employer is not permitted to terminate a fixed term contract or employment that lasted for more than three months, even if it provided notice, in the following circumstances:
If an employee is pregnant or for the period of 16 weeks following her pregnancy; If an employee is not able to work due to illness or accident for a period of up to 30 days during the first year of employment, 90 days during the second year of employment and for up to 180 days for the sixth year of employment and thereafter; or If an employee is serving in the Swiss military, civil defense service, women's military service or Red Cross. In Switzerland, the...