Covid-19 crisis in Switzerland: What are your rights and obligations in the workplace?

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Covid-19 crisis in Switzerland: What are your rights and obligations in the workplace?
In a work environment, you must comply with the rules. Photo by AFP

The Covid-19 crisis has created new practices and behaviours not only in society as a whole, but also in Swiss workplaces.


20 Minuten media outlet asked experts to answer some pertinent questions that employees in Swiss companies are concerned about.

Can I refuse coronavirus prevention measures, such as a protective mask?

No, an employee must comply with company regulations, Swiss labour law expert Marc Wohlwend said.

The only exception would be if an employee couldn’t wear a mask for medical reasons, in which case a doctor’s certificate would be needed to explain the exemption.

Those who refuse to wear a mask for no justifiable reason will be sent home, as they pose a risk of infection to themselves and to others.

If stipulated in the employment contract or company regulations, there is also a risk of specific measures such as fines and wage cuts for non-compliance with the rules, Wohlwend, said.

Should I openly admit to my employer that I am skeptical about the effectiveness of the prevention measures?

According to management consultant Roger Künzli, in a good working environment, “expressing constructive criticism is positive and must be permitted”.

However, work psychologist Barbara Körner from the University of Zurich recommends carefully considering which non-work-related topics can be discussed in the office.

“The workplace may not be a good place to express extreme opinions”, she said.


Can my employer forbid me to spend my holidays in a country at risk?

No, employers cannot ban private travel. However, vacations in known risk areas may have an impact on the payment of wages if quarantine is required after your return (see below).

READ MORE: More than half of Swiss workers report feeling 'emotionally exhausted'

Is my employer obligated to pay my salary during a quarantine?

It depends.

If you were sent to a high-risk region for professional reasons, then your company has to pay your wages during the 10-day compulsory quarantine.

But if you went to those areas privately, knowing that quarantine requirement was in place after your return to Switzerland, you cannot expect the employer to pay.

However, if you have a lot of vacation time and can ‘fit in’ the quarantine into that period, then your salary will not be impacted.





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