Working conditions and compensation

Working conditions and compensation

In Switzerland, the most important aspects of any employment contract are the working conditions and compensation, which must comply with legal provisions. The Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), the Federal Act on Labour (LTr), and its ordinances (OLT) govern work in Switzerland, while some sectors also have their own regulations. Legal standards for working conditions and compensation are rigorous to ensure adequate protection of workers’ rights.

Key elements of working conditions include working hours, breaks, paid leave, sick leave, and social benefits such as health insurance and old-age insurance. Employers are legally obliged to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for their employees. Employees also have the right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. Generally, working conditions in Switzerland are satisfactory, with significant legal protections for workers.

The employee receives a salary agreed upon with their employer, customary, or pursuant to a standard employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement (art. 322 para. 1 CO). Salaries in Switzerland are generally attractive and social benefits are well-established. However, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Switzerland is high, which can impact the standard of living for workers.

Working hours and rest periods

Working hours and rest periods are also crucial elements of an employment contract in Switzerland. The maximum duration of working time is regulated and varies according to sectors and circumstances, ranging from 45 to 50 hours per week (art. 9 LTr; art. 2 OLT 1).
In Switzerland, each worker has a right to a break during their workday for rest and nourishment. However, smokers are not allowed additional breaks. The duration of this break depends on the length of the working day, which is determined by the employment contract. If you work flexible hours, the duration of the break will be determined based on the average length of the working day stipulated in your contract. Your employer may also establish a regulation on breaks, including specifying the timings and facilities for them. It is therefore essential to be well informed about the rules in force in your company. Workers are also entitled to a weekly rest day (art. 329 para. 1 CO). Generally, breaks are not paid.

It is also possible for the employee to work overtime. In this case, these hours can be compensated with time off of at least the same duration (321c para. 2 CO) or with the normal salary increased by at least a quarter (art. 321c para. 3 CO).

Minimum wage and salary structure

In Switzerland, there is no national minimum wage, but some cantons have established their own minimum wages applicable in their territory. Therefore, minimum wages vary by region. Employers are required to respect the minimum wages established by their canton for each category of workers. In addition, in some sectors, collective labor agreements (CCT) or national collective labor agreements (CCNT) specific to each branch establish minimum wages.
Salary structure is also important in Switzerland. Employers must establish a salary scale for each category of employee, taking into account their experience, qualifications, and responsibilities. Employers must ensure fair remuneration for all employees, without discrimination.

Workers also benefit from social benefits such as health insurance, accident insurance, old-age insurance, and unemployment insurance. Employers are required to pay a part of these insurances for their employees.

Paid leave and public holidays

In Switzerland, workers are entitled to paid leave days as well as public holidays. They are entitled to a minimum of four weeks of paid vacation per year, while employees under 20 years old are entitled to five weeks of vacation per year (art. 329a para. 1 CO). This right applies regardless of the employee’s work rate, although some collective labor agreements may provide additional leave. Moreover, employers may decide to grant longer leave to their employees.
Public holidays are also regulated in Switzerland. August 1st is the only national public holiday in Switzerland, while other public holidays vary from one canton to another. Cantons can set up to a maximum of eight additional public holidays (art. 20a LTr). If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it cannot be compensated, but it is also not counted as a vacation day.

In case of illness or accident, workers are entitled to paid sick leave. They must inform their employer of their absence as soon as possible and provide a medical certificate justifying their absence. Employers are required to pay a salary for a limited period in case of absence due to illness or accident.

It is important to note that workers in Switzerland are also entitled to paid leave in case of pregnancy or paternity. Maternity leave is 14 weeks (art. 329f CO), while paternity leave is 2 weeks (art. 329g CO). It is also possible to take other leaves, such as leave for caregiving (art. 329h CO) or leave for the care of a seriously ill child (art. 329i CO).

In case of a dispute over working conditions or compensation, it is strongly recommended to consult a specialized lawyer to protect one’s rights and interests.

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