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Do I need to be vaccinated to get a new job in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 25 May, 2021 Updated Tue 25 May 2021 12:36 CEST
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A health worker prepares doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Janssen vaccines against COVID-19 in the medical centre of Allariz before beginning an in-house vaccination campaign for the elderly in rural areas on April 30, 2021. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Vaccines, whether in general or in the workplace, are still a bit of a grey area in Switzerland.


From the very beginning of the vaccination campaign, the Swiss government said it would not make the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory.

“A general obligation to vaccinate the population is fundamentally ruled out by law. Through transparent and comprehensible information, every person should be able to decide freely whether they want to be vaccinated”, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said.

However, questions about this still persist, including in regards to employment.

What is certain is that state-run or public establishments can’t decide to hire only those who have been vaccinated, as this would clearly be against the law.

What about private companies?

It appears to be down to the individual company.

Of several companies interviewed by Italian language news site Ticino Online, none said it would exclude non-vaccinated candidates from new jobs.

Microsoft Switzerland said that vaccination "is not a requirement" for its employees, as did Credit Suisse Bank.

As for SWISS airline,  there is also no obligation for its staff to be inoculated, though the company issued an "urgent recommendation" to its employees to be vaccinated.

Basically, if compulsory workplace vaccination were imposed Switzerland, employees could refuse it and take legal action against possible unjustified dismissal.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: How Switzerland’s ‘slow’ vaccination rollout protects the most vulnerable


'Did you get the vaccine?'

By the same token, employers are not allowed to ask candidates during a job interview whether they are vaccinated.

Therefore, employers are unlikely to ask questions about vaccination, even though employees still have to comply with the general protective measures required by the company, such as masks or social distancing, according to Thomas Geiser, a professor of labour law at the University of St. Gallen.


What happens if such a question is asked and you lie about getting the vaccine?

This is one situation where not telling the truth won’t get you in trouble with your boss.

"If the employer learns the truth, there's nothing they could do, because it's an inadmissible question in the first place",  Geiser told Ticino Online.

"The question of vaccination is clearly inadmissible and it is not the employer's business anyway”, said a spokesperson for labour union UNIA.   

On the other hand, the employer "must ensure that employees are protected" in the workplace, which can be done with protective measures, without vaccination, he added.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: How Switzerland’s ‘slow’ vaccination rollout protects the most vulnerable




Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2021/05/25 12:36

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