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Termination

Notice

Are employers required to give notice of termination?

Employment agreements can be terminated by observing the following termination periods:

  • one month during the first year of service;
  • two months between the second and ninth years of service; and
  • three months thereafter. 

Employment agreements can provide for longer or shorter termination periods (although they will usually be no less than one month).

Though no specific form is required for a termination, for evidence purposes, it is advisable that termination notices be given in writing (which is sometimes required by the employment contract itself).

Redundancies

What are the rules that govern redundancy procedures?

‘Mass redundancies’ are notices of termination given by an employer to employees for reasons not pertaining personally to the employees that affect:

  • at least 10 employees of a business normally employing between 20 and 100 employees;
  • at least 10% of employees of a business normally employing between 100 and 300 employees; or
  • at least 30 employees of a business normally employing at least 300 employees.

An employer intending to make mass redundancies must consult the work’s council or, in its absence, the employees themselves. The employer must give employees the opportunity to formulate proposals on how to:

  • avoid such redundancies or limit their number; and
  • mitigate their consequences.

Employers must provide the work’s council or, in its absence, their employees with all appropriate information and inform them in writing of:

  • the reasons for the mass redundancies;
  • the number of employees to whom notice has been given;
  • the number of employees normally employed in the business; and
  • the period in which it plans to issue the notices of termination.

An employer must notify the cantonal employment office in writing of any intended mass redundancies and forward a copy of such notification to the work’s council or, in its absence, its employees. The notification must contain the results of the consultation with the organisation that represents the employees and all appropriate information regarding the intended mass redundancies

The cantonal employment office seeks to resolve problems caused by planned mass redundancies. The work’s council or employees can submit comments. Where notice to terminate an employment relationship has been given within the context of a mass redundancy, the relationship will end 30 days after the date on which the mass redundancies were notified to the cantonal employment office, unless such notice of termination takes effect at a later date pursuant to statutory or contractual provisions.

As a separate matter, an employer must hold negotiations with it employees with the aim of preparing a social plan if it:

  • usually employs at least 250 employees; and
  • intends to make at least 30 employees redundant within 30 days for reasons that are unrelated to them.

If the parties are unable to agree on a social plan, an arbitral tribunal will be appointed, which will issue a social plan in a binding arbitral award.

The social plan’s provisions do not apply to mass redundancies that occur during bankruptcy or composition proceedings that are concluded with a composition agreement.

Are there particular rules for collective redundancies/mass layoffs?

See above.

Protections

What protections do employees have on dismissal?

In general, Swiss employment laws provide protection against:

  • dismissals that occur during sickness or accident-related work absences or absences due to military or other public service;
  • dismissals that are based on, among other things, gender, race, religion or union membership;
  • dismissals that occur because the employee rightfully complained about his or her entitlements;
  • certain dismissals that occur in the context of a mass dismissal;
  • dismissals for an important cause that have an immediate effect, where the necessary requirements are not met.

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