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What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?
Job ads must be drafted and published in line with the Federal Equal Opportunity Act 1995. Most discussions take place around alleged direct or indirect discrimination due to gender and age – for example, job ads should be gender neutral, unless there are reasonable grounds for a different approach. Similarly, jobs should not be advertised to a certain age group or experienced professionals with a specified period of work experience in a particular field, as this may be considered indirect discrimination unless there are good reasons for doing so).
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
It is best practice to ask a candidate to provide a copy of his or her criminal record if he or she is applying for:
- a higher management position where professional reputation and trustworthiness, among other things, are important; or
- a position which involves a level of security (eg, a bank officer or professional driver).
(b) Medical history?
In some instances, job applicants can be asked to disclose their medical records – for example, if the position requires good physical and mental health (eg, security-related positions, such as pilots or professional drivers).
(c) Drug screening?
In some instances, job applicants can be asked to undergo drug tests if the position requires good physical and mental health (eg, security-related positions, such as workplace security positions in the pharmaceutical industry).
(d) Credit checks?
Employers can request information regarding candidates from a local debt collection agency if the position justifies such disclosure (eg, if the position has treasury or accounting functions).
(e) Immigration status?
An employee’s visa and work permit status must be confirmed (either before or after the conclusion of the employment contract).
(f) Social media?
Best practice prohibits employers from conducting research through social media platforms of a primarily private nature, such as Facebook or Twitter. However, employers can generally access business-focused social media, such as LinkedIn or Xing.
Wages and working time
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?
There is no minimum wage in Switzerland; Swiss voters rejected the option to introduce such a wage in a May 2014 referendum. However, minimum wage rates are found in selected collective bargaining agreements. Further, Switzerland’s bilateral treaties securing the free movement of EU and European Free Trade Association citizens into Switzerland (and vice versa) provide indirect minimum wage provisions.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
The maximum number of working hours per week is 45 for industrial sector employees, office employees and technical and other such employees, including sales personnel for large retailing firms. The maximum number of working hours per week for all other employees is 50.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
The following break requirements apply:
- Where an employee’s daily working hours exceed five hours and 30 minutes, the law requires a break of at least 15 minutes.
- Where an employee’s daily working hours exceed seven hours, the law requires a break of at least 30 minutes.
- Where an employee’s daily working hours exceed nine hours, the law requires a break of at least one hour.
How should overtime be calculated?
Overtime – as opposed to so-called ‘extra hours’ (see below) – accrues when working hours exceed the contractually agreed working hours (usually 40 hours per week). Employees are required to undertake overtime where:
- the work is necessary and reasonable and not physically and mentally overwhelming; and
- working hour limits and rest periods are respected.
Overtime must be compensated with a premium of 25% of the employee’s hourly rate. However, premiums can be partially or entirely excluded if done so in writing. If agreed, overtime can also be compensated with time off in lieu. Working time is generally not specifically defined for higher level management positions; it is assumed that managers with greater workloads will be compensated with higher wages.
So-called ‘extra hours’ accrue when working hours exceed the statutory maximum number of working hours per week (ie, 45 to 50 hours, depending on the sector). Extra hours cannot exceed:
- two hours per day; and
- 170 hours (based on a 45-hour week) or 140 hours (based on a 50-hour week) per calendar year.
Further, extra hours must be compensated with a premium of at least 25% of the employee’s hourly rate (non-waivable) if they are not compensated with time off in lieu.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
Employees under the age of 20 years are entitled to a minimum of five weeks paid holiday. All other employees are entitled to a minimum of four weeks.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
Switzerland’s social security system encompasses mandatory insurance relating to an employee’s retirement, sickness and death, for which 10.25% of an employee’s overall gross salary is equally deducted/grossed up and forwarded by the employer to the local social security office. The same system applies for insurance relating to unemployment, for which 1.1% percent of an employee’s gross salary is deducted/grossed up for an annual gross salary of up to Sfr148,200. For salaries exceeding Sfr148,200, an additional 0.5% is levied.
While the above regime is intended to cover minimum living standards, Switzerland’s mandatory and partly voluntary pension fund system will, to some extent, meet the existing living standards of pensioners in cases of retirement, invalidity and death. To cover the mandatory pension fund requirements, between 7% and 18% of a salary ranging between Sfr21,150 and Sfr84,600 will be deducted/grossed up and forwarded by the employer to a pension fund that is legally separate from the employer. Additional levies exist for the voluntary part of the pension fund scheme.
There are further, rather nominal, social security levies for the financial risks relating to accidents, which in most cases are shared equally between employers and employees. Employers also take out insurance for salary-related risks associated with accidents and sickness. Insurance for sickness-related risks is generally a private insurance matter.
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
There is a general record-keeping duty for all relevant business documents in Switzerland, which includes human resources-related documents.
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