For what reasons am I allowed to get a day off work in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
For what reasons am I allowed to get a day off work in Switzerland?
You can take a day off work to get married. Photo by Pixabay

Swiss law allows employees to take time off with pay in some well-defined circumstances. From annual leave to compassionate leave, this is what you are entitled to.


In general, absences from work are covered by Switzerland’s labour law, collective employment agreement, or your individual work contract.

They all have provisions for situations that entitle employees to take time off work without having to miss pay or compensate for the missed hours.

They include:

  • A doctor’s appointment
  • A court appearance or similar legal obligation
  • Public duties (working as a member of Parliament, for instance)
  • Your marriage
  • Birth of your child
  • Death of a close relative
  • Moving house
  • Care of a close relative


According to the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO), the last category includes children, spouse, the registered partner, as well as parents, siblings, and the person with whom the employee lives for at least five years without interruption.

Also, except in cases of births and deaths, which obviously can't be scheduled in advance, “such short absences are only acceptable if it is impossible to organise these appointments outside working hours”, SECO points out.

Companies also will grant a so-called compassionate or bereavement leave for death of a close relative. The duration of this kind of absence is usually up to three days, or as defined by the work contract.

Note, however, that this paid time off is given only for deaths of immediate family members like parents, children, siblings or grandparents, rather than for distant relatives or, even less so, random people.

What about illnesses?

If you are absent for more than three days, you must present a medical certificate mentioning your diagnosis and how many days (or weeks or months) you will be absent from work.

During this time you will continue to receive your salary for a period of time based on the duration of your employment and whether your company has a sickness benefit insurance for employees.

In this case, you will continue to be paid for up to 730 days for illness that lasts over 900 days.

But while most employers in Switzerland have this insurance, some don’t. If you happen to work for the latter kind, you will continue to get your salary but for a very limited period: three weeks in the first year of employment, with increases for every additional year, up to a maximum of four months.

This period does, however, vary depending on the canton.


Does this mean you can’t be fired while sick?

Your job is not going to be there waiting for you until you recover — you are protected from dismissal only for a limited period of time, depending on how long you have been employed at a company.

Your boss must keep you on for:

  • 30 days in the first year of work
  •  90 days from the second to the fifth year of work; and
  • 180 days from the sixth year of work.

The only exception to this rule is if you get sick during the trial or probation period — usually between one or three months after you start a new job.

If that’s the case, the employer has the right to terminate your contract.

READ MORE: Reader question: Does my Swiss employer have a right to fire me when I’m sick?

Annual leave and public holidays

For full-time work, which is 41 hours per week, companies must give their employees a minimum of four weeks of vacation each year, and at least five weeks for workers under the age of 20.

However, many companies offer their employees more than the legal minimum; the exact number of days or weeks is outlined in an employment contract.

For part-time work, the four-week period is pro-rated according to the number of hours an employee works each week.

In addition to annual leave, employees are also entitled to get public holidays off with pay.

On the federal level, public holidays are January 1st (New Year’s Day), Ascension Day, August 1st (National Day), September 19th (The federal day of thanksgiving, repentance, and prayer, which is a holiday everywhere in Switzerland except in Geneva, which celebrates it on September 9th), and December 25th (Christmas Day).

Technically speaking, Easter Sunday is also a national holiday, however it always falls on a Sunday. 

Additionally, nearly each Swiss canton has its own pubic holidays, which workers can have off with pay.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about annual leave in Switzerland


What about parental leave?

Until January 1st, 2021, only mothers were allowed to take time off after the birth of their babies — 14 weeks at 80 percent of their usual earnings, although cantonal laws and / or employment contracts may provide for a more generous leave and compensation.

In terms of paternity leave, Switzerland has long lagged behind its neighbours, with fathers allowed to take only one unpaid day off upon the birth of their child.

However, in September 2020, Swiss voters approved the plan to extend this leave to two weeks for all biological fathers, who are paid 80 percent of their earnings —  up to a maximum of 196 francs per day — during this time.

The days do not have to be taken all at once; fathers could elect to take one day off per week for ten weeks, or any combination thereof.


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