Working conditions and remuneration

Working conditions and remuneration in Switzerland

In Switzerland, working conditions and remuneration are key elements of any employment contract. Employers must adhere to legal provisions regarding working conditions and remuneration, as regulated by the Code of Obligations (CO), the Federal Labour Law (LTr), and its ordinances (OLT). Some specific sectors also have their regulations in the form of collective labor agreements (CCT). Swiss legal provisions are quite strict, ensuring worker protection.

Working conditions include work hours, breaks, holidays, sick leave, and social benefits like health and old-age insurance. Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment, and employees have the right to refuse work in dangerous conditions. Swiss working conditions are generally favorable, with significant legal protections for workers.

Employees receive remuneration agreed upon, customary, or defined by a standard employment contract or collective agreement (art. 322 para. 1 CO). Wages are typically moderate, and social benefits are well-developed. However, the high cost of living in Switzerland can impact workers’ living standards.

Working hours and rest periods

The maximum working hours are 45 to 50 hours per week, depending on the field and circumstances (art. 9 LTr; art. 2 OLT 1).
Workers in Switzerland are entitled to a break during their workday for rest and meals. Smokers do not have the right to additional breaks. The duration of this break depends on the scheduled workday length in the employment contract. Employers can set regulations for breaks, including timing and locations. Workers also have the right to a weekly rest day (art. 329 para. 1 CO). Breaks are generally unpaid.

Employees may work overtime, compensated by equivalent leave (art. 321c para. 2 CO) or regular salary plus at least a quarter (art. 321c para. 3 CO).

Minimum wage and salary structure

While there’s no national minimum wage in Switzerland, some cantons have established minimum wages for various worker categories. Employers must adhere to the minimum wage set by their canton.
In some sectors, minimum wages are established in collective labor agreements (CCT) or national collective labor agreements (CCNT).

Salary structure is important, with employers determining a pay scale for each employee category, based on experience, qualifications, and responsibilities. Employers must ensure fair remuneration for all employees, without discrimination.

Workers are entitled to social benefits, including health insurance, accident insurance, old-age insurance, and unemployment insurance. Employers contribute to these insurances for their employees.

Paid leave and public holidays

Workers in Switzerland are entitled to paid leave and public holidays. They have a minimum of 4 weeks of annual leave (5 weeks for employees under 20 years old – art. 329a para. 1 CO), regardless of the employment rate. Some collective agreements provide additional holidays, and employers may grant longer vacations.
Public holidays are regulated in Switzerland. August 1st is the only national holiday, while others vary by canton, which can set up to 8 additional holidays (art. 20a LTr). Public holidays falling on weekends are not compensated. Public holidays are not counted as vacation days.

In case of illness or accident, Swiss workers are entitled to paid sick leave. Employers must pay wages for a limited period during absence due to illness or accident.

In case of pregnancy or paternity, Swiss workers are entitled to paid leave. Maternity leave is 14 weeks (art. 329f CO), and paternity leave is 2 weeks (art. 329g CO).

Other leaves, such as leave for the care of relatives (art. 329h CO) or for the care of a seriously ill child (art. 329i CO), are also available.

In disputes over working conditions or remuneration, it’s strongly advised to consult a specialized lawyer to protect your rights and interests. This is particularly important as defending your rights often involves respecting deadlines and other legal obligations.

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