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The employment relationship

Country specific laws

What laws and regulations govern the employment relationship?

The most important statutory laws governing the employment relationship are:

  • the Code of Obligations (SR 220);
  • the Federal Work Act (SR 822.11);
  • the Federal Act on Gender Equality (SR 151.11);
  • the Federal Act on Worker's Participation (822.14);
  • the Federal Act on Deployment (SR 823.20);
  • the Federal Act on Placement Agencies and Staffing Leasing Services (SR 823.11); and
  • the Federal Ordinance against Excessive Compensations with Listed Companies (221.331).

Most of these laws have corresponding ordinances.

Statutory laws on Swiss social security and social insurances, as well as collective bargaining agreements, have a significant impact on the employment relationship.

Who do these cover, including categories of worker?

In theory, these laws cover all categories of worker in the private sector. Employment in the public sector is governed by public laws.


Are there specific rules regarding employee/contractor classification?

The employee-contractor classification is governed by Articles 18 and 319 of the Code of Obligations, as well as by case law. Work control and integration into business organisation are crucial factors.


Must an employment contract be in writing?

As a rule, employment contracts are not subject to any specific formal requirement.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

Parties under an employment contract must adhere to mandatory statutory laws and any applicable collective bargaining agreements. If contracting parties deviate from those provisions, the mandatory terms are implied into the employment contract and the mutually agreed provisions of the contract are void.

Are mandatory arbitration/dispute resolution agreements enforceable?

In some instances, mandatory arbitration agreements are unenforceable in employment matters.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

Changes to an existing employment agreement can be mutually agreed at any time. If the employee refuses any changes, the employer may give a termination notice and propose an amended employment agreement to the employee. If the employee wishes to continue employment, he or she must accept the changes to the existing employment agreement when the applicable notice period expires. The employment ends if the employee rejects any changes despite the notice. Reasonable grounds are required for notice to be given to change employment terms to the detriment of the employee.

Foreign workers

Is a distinction drawn between local and foreign workers?


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