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EXPLAINED: What are your rights as an employee in Switzerland?

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Parul Chhaparia - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What are your rights as an employee in Switzerland?
Many foreigners come to work in Switzerland. Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Besides its scenic beauty, Switzerland is also attractive due to its high salaries, good work-life balance and other benefits. Here's what to know about the perks of being an employee in the Alpine country.

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If you are considering taking up a job in Switzerland, there are a number of mandatory and additional employee benefits offered to Swiss employees.

Some of them are required by Switzerland's labour law, while others are voluntary measures.

Switzerland’s legislation is quite comprehensive, encompassing working conditions, employees’ rights, annual leave and other time off, protection from discrimination, and gender equality, among other aspects of employment.

Let's look at your employers' obligations first.

Mandatory benefits: There are two types of workers in Switzerland – employees and independent contractors. Employees are covered under Swiss regulations and can take advantage of all benefits written in law. It is mandatory for employers to provide benefits like paid annual leave, maternity leave, insurance, and sick leave.

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

Public holidays: Swiss employees are entitled to public holidays as per the 'cantonal rules.' The only exception is when the public holiday falls on a weekend. In this case, the day off isn't given on a weekday instead like the case in some other countries such as the United States. 

READ MORE: REVEALED: Find out the Swiss public holidays in 2023

Paid leave: Employees are entitled to a minimum of four weeks of fully paid holidays. If the employee is below 20 years old, the leave has to be five weeks. Senior employees over the age of 50 are entitled to six weeks of holidays per year. 

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Maternity and paternity benefits: 

Switzerland allows 14-weeks of mandatory paid maternity leave. The employees are paid 80 percent of the normal salary during this period. However, there is a cap of 197 CHF per day.

Fathers can take two weeks of paid paternity leaves within six months of the delivery of the child.

In case of an accident or health issue of a child, employees can also take up to 14 weeks of unpaid leave.

Pension and retirement

Under the social security system, employees are offered benefits in areas including – old age, survivors and disability, maternity, military services leave, unemployment, and family allowances. The retirement system is based on three pillar system.

Pillar 1 includes the compulsory federal social security system for old age and survivors pension (AHV) and disability pension (IV). The contribution from employee and employer is equal.

Pillar 2 consists of employer-sponsored pension coverage, including the mandatory pension plan (BVG). The employers are entitled to pay at least 50 percent of the total contributions.

Pillar 3 is the voluntary individual contribution.

READ MORE: Reader question: How long must I work for in Switzerland to qualify for a pension?

Employers and employees are obliged to contribute to the social security payroll taxes. This tax rate differs from canton to canton.

Insurance:

All Swiss residents must have private health insurance. In addition, employers also provide occupational accident insurance to employees in case of an accident on the job or off.

Overtime:

The maximum working hours in Switzerland are around 45 hours per week. If your employer asks you to work more hours (which you can refuse), you must be compensated with either time off or a 25-percent premium in addition to regular wages.

Family allowance: 

Swiss law also provides a family allowance, regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed. However, the amount of family allowance varies from canton to canton.

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READ MORE: What welfare benefits can you get if you have children in Switzerland?

All of the above are the obligations your employer must fulfil, as mandated by law. However, some companies also offer, voluntarily, additional benefits to their workers. They could include such perks as travel allowance, company canteen, training and development, employee discount on company products, and others.

What additional rights do workers in Switzerland have?

Many companies also have negotiated collective agreements (CLA) with trade unions or employee associations.

Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

Other important employment-related matters are also subject to negotiations — for instance, pension fund regulations, early retirement, conflict resolution procedures, and funding of training.

Some workplaces also offer childcare opportunities, although that it not so common.

READ MORE: What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

With reporting by Helena Bachmann

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