EXPLAINED: What to pay attention to when signing a Swiss work contract

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What to pay attention to when signing a Swiss work contract
Read carefully what you sign. Photo: Pixabay

If you are about to start working in Switzerland and are afraid you may get swindled, know that, on the whole, employment agreements are pretty standard and straightforward. But there are key things to know about.


You might have heard about workers who toil long hours at their jobs with very little pay.

Such incidences do happen in Switzerland but they are extremely rare. They involve undocumented workers (mostly agricultural or domestic) and unscrupulous employers who take advantage of their workers’ illegal status to exploit them.

But if you are working in Switzerland legally, then your wages, along with rights and responsibilities (as well as those of your employer) will be detailed in the contract, established in accordance with the law.

Know that there are two kinds of work contracts in Switzerland, and the extent of your involvement will depend on which of the two applies to your job.

Collective labour agreement

In you are employed in one of Switzerland’s large or medium-sized companies, chances are your salary and work conditions are set by a collective agreement (CLA).

It is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations; it sets out salaries, as well as working hours and general conditions for each job, sector, or company.

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

It is estimated that roughly half of Switzerland’s workforce of about 5 million people are covered by a CLA.

So if you are employed by a company that has a CLA in place, then you shouldn’t worry about your contract not being up to scratch.


But what happens if your company is not covered by a CLA?

If you have an individual agreement with your employers, you should not worry too much about being swindled either, because any legitimate company, even a small one, must comply with the rules and conditions outlined in Switzerland’s labour law.

It is pretty comprehensive, encompassing general working conditions, employees’ rights, annual leave and other time off, protection from discrimination, and gender equality, among other aspects of employment. 

Although the format of a contract that you will be asked to sign is standard — that is, including all the essential information required by law — it is nevertheless a good idea to be vigilant.

This means that you shouldn’t just sign the contract without reading it thoroughly first.

While it’s pretty certain your employer is not out to cheat you, it is possible that inadvertent mistakes have slipped in, even if they are minor ones like the spelling of your name or your date of birth.


These are the details you should pay attention to:

  • The name of the employee and the name of the employer
  • The date on which you start work
  • The employee’s function
  • The salary and any allowances/bonuses
  • The weekly working hours
  • Your annual leave allowance

If it’s a fixed-term contract, your employer must also indicate the date when the contract ends.

Your agreement could also list any special requirements or rules that the company has in place and with which employees must comply; these too must be within the parameters of the law.

If you see something in the contract that you don’t understand, or that wasn’t part of your oral agreement during the interview process, then bring it to the employer’s attention before you sign.

All these rules, by the way, apply regardless of whether you are Swiss or foreign national.

READ ALSO: How can I find out if my Swiss employer is underpaying me?


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