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Introduction

Swiss employment law

The legal regime governing employment relationships in Switzerland is generally more liberal and favorable towards the employer than in many other European countries. This is partly because labour unions are somehow less influential in Switzerland compared to, for example, labour unions in European Union countries, but also because the unemployment rate traditionally has been and remains relatively low in Switzerland.

According to the principle of freedom of contract, the parties of an employment agreement are free to agree on the content and terms of their agreement to an extent that is substantially greater than in most other European jurisdictions. Swiss employment law, however, does contain some basic mandatory provisions. Most important, the mandatory provisions are aiming to protect the safety and the health of the employee. Public labour protection regulations cover, among other things, working hours and breaks, special protection for young employees, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, work-related injury insurance and industrial accident prevention.

For issues relating to employment law, the provisions of the employment contract should be the first point of reference, taking into account mandatory statutory provisions. If the employment contract is silent on a certain issue, then the non-mandatory statutory provisions apply.

 

Key Points

  • Switzerland has a dual system for the admission of foreign workers (preferential treatment of EU/ EFTA nationals).
  • Every employee has the right to decide whether to join a trade union or not. The unions are financed through the contributions of their members.
  • A Swiss employer is fully liable for social security contributions in respect of his employees.
  • Where the employer transfers a business or a part of a business to a third party, the employment relationship and all attendant rights and obligations pass to the acquirer as of the day of the transfer, unless the employee refuses to transfer.
  • In principle, no particular cause to terminate an employment relationship is required.

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