What employees in Switzerland should know about probation periods

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What employees in Switzerland should know about probation periods
Probation period could be ended by mutual agreement. Image by Rob Owen-Wahl from Pixabay

You applied for a new job in Switzerland and your contract calls for a probation period. What is it and what are your rights?


When most people think about probation, they think of it in terms of the justice system: an offender is released from jail or prison, and is subject to continued supervision.

But there is also a notion of probation in employment, when a new worker is tested for the competence and ability to perform their job.

In other words, it is a trial period, usually lasting from one to three months, depending on the terms of the contract.

Not every employer requires workers to undergo this trial period, but some do.

READ MORE: Getting fired in Switzerland: The employment laws you need to know about


Mutual benefit

Though you may think that during the probation period your employer has the upper hand, as he or she will keep a critical eye on your performance to decide whether you are a good fit for the business, this practice is mutually beneficial.

You too should use this period to evaluate whether the job, the workplace, and the company’s corporate culture in general, meet your requirements.

In other words, the employer wants to see whether you are a good candidate for the job, while you want to make sure this is the position you really want.

Whichever way this trial period ultimately turns out, it must follow all the relevant rules outlined in the Swiss employment law.

This is what it says:


If either (or both) parties decide to part ways during the probation term, they may terminate a contract at any time during this period.

They must, however, give notice of seven calendar days, unless a longer or shorter period is agreed in the work contract.

This means the employer can’t fire you on the spot and you can’t just get up and leave at a moment’s notice.

There are some exceptions though.

If during the time that would normally constitute the probation period the employee falls ill, or has an accident, the probation period is extended accordingly.


Fewer legal protections that are included in the labour law apply during the trial term: for instance, you can be fired during the probation period if you are pregnant. But, according to a government site, “you are never obligated to inform your employer that you are pregnant".

You are also not required to state why you are terminating the contract, but the other party may ask you about your reasons.

While neither of you must give the reason for ending employment, a feedback could prove useful for both.

What about wages?

Needless to say, your employer must pay you the agreed-upon salary during the probation.

The trial period is not the same as unpaid internship.

By the way, all of the above rules are the same whether you are a foreign national or Swiss.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What it’s really like working in Switzerland


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