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Work Hours


Officially known as the Swiss Confederation, Switzerland is a Federal Republic comprised of 26 cantons. Switzerland has four national languages: German (spoken by about 60% of the Swiss population), French (spoken by about 25%), Italian (spoken by around 8%, concentrated in the region near Italy) and Romansh (a Romance language spoken by less than 1% of the population). Switzerland is distinguished by its high-tech economy and economic stability, including a strong financial services and banking industry. The seat of government is in Bern. Geneva is known as the “capital of peace.” It is home to the headquarters of the Red Cross and the United Nations Organization (Europe). Switzerland is not a member of the EU. Its currency is the Swiss Franc.

Employment contracts in Switzerland are generally written, although this is not required. However, when the employee’s contract is for an indefinite term or for a fixed-term lasting longer than a month, the employer must provide the employee a written document that includes:

  • the names of the employer and employee,

  • the date the employment relationship will begin,

  • a description of the job,

  • the employee’s salary and any adjustments, and

  • the number of hours to be worked each week.

In practice, terms of employment are often set by collective agreements, which cover many workers in Switzerland.

The standard work week in Switzerland is 45 hours for industrial, office, technical and retail workers, while other industries are limited to 50 hours. Overtime may not exceed two hours per day. Employees whose work week is 45 hours may not work more than 170 overtime hours per year, while the annual overtime limit for employees who work 50 hours per week is 140 hours. Employees are paid at 125% of their standard hourly rate for overtime, although white-collar workers and retail workers in large stores do not begin to receive the 25% supplement until they have worked 60 hours.

Employees are entitled to three weeks of paid sick leave in Switzerland during the first year of work for an employer, and more the longer they remain with the employer. The exact amount of sick leave and sick pay the employee receives varies based on canton and may be determined by a contract or collective agreement.

Female employees receive 14 weeks of maternity leave in Switzerland. The leave lasts 16 weeks in the canton of Geneva, and other cantons may enact other laws that provide for more time. In every canton except Geneva, a mother who has used her 14 weeks of maternity leave is entitled to two more weeks of unpaid leave before returning to work. Fathers may take up to two weeks of paternity leave during the first six months after birth.

Bonuses are common in Switzerland and are often paid towards the end of the year as a 13th month salary. Workers on fixed-term contracts sometimes receive a bonus when the contract expires.

Employees receive four weeks of paid annual leave in Switzerland.

Switzerland has just one national public holiday: Swiss National Day. Switzerland's cantons determine the holidays celebrated in that canton.

Switzerland requires citizens and residents to purchase private health insurance.

Either the employer or the employee may terminate an employment contract in Switzerland. Unless a contract or collective agreement provides otherwise, the notice period ranges from one week to three months depending on the employee’s length of service. An employee can be dismissed without notice but only for extreme misconduct. Employees past the age of 50 who have worked for their employers for more than 20 years are entitled to severance of a minimum of two months of salary.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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