The regional employment offices (RAV) are service providers specialized in the labor market, job placement, and unemployment. The services provided by RAV to citizens are twofold: access to a vast job pool (unfortunately with few jobs for unemployed academics) and support for the unemployed. In the latter case, it is not a question of finding dream jobs for job seekers but to reintegrate them into the labor market as soon as possible. Candidates therefore have no claim to work in the profession they trained for.

First Steps When Unemployed

Any employer who dismisses an employee must adhere to the notice period. If this notice period is not set in writing and if no collective labor agreement exists, the notice period is defined by the Swiss Code of Obligations. There is special protection against dismissal for the time spent doing military service, civilian service, or civil protection duty, and in the event of sickness, accident, or pregnancy.

When in doubt, inform your employer immediately by registered post that you wish to continue working.

Please note: If you hand in your notice without having a job to go to, or if you have been dismissed for reasons of your own fault, you will not be entitled to unemployment benefit for a certain period.

Important: Start job hunting as soon as the notice period begins and be sure to keep relevant documents (application letters, job offers, rejection letters, etc.) to later show to your RAV consultant. If you do not search for a job during the notice period, unemployment benefit will be refused to you for a certain period.

If you are unemployed when graduating, you can also register with RAV (for conditions, see “Claim to Unemployment Benefit”). However you must register immediately after receiving your degree certificate.

Registering As Unemployed

Register as early as possible, but no later than the first day on which you wish to claim unemployment benefit. Your unemployed status must be registered in person. Depending on the canton, this will either be at your local authority or at the relevant RAV office. Here you will be told how to proceed. You can then also select your unemployment benefit office.

Claim to Unemployment Benefit

You have to be fully or partially unemployed. You are also insured if you have a part-time job and are looking for a full-time or another part-time job. Important: You are not officially deemed as unemployed until - depending on your canton - you have personally registered at your local authority or relevant RAV office.

Your nationality is not relevant to your claim to compensation. However, you must live in Switzerland (foreign nationals require a valid residence permit).

You must prove that you have paid in at least 12 months of contributions within the 2 years before your initial registration (time limit for the contribution period) i.e. you must prove that you have been employed.

In the event that your contribution period was too short, you are insured if you could not work for more than a total of 12 months for reasons such as

  • Education, provided you were officially resident for at least 10 years in Switzerland
  • Illness, accident, or pregnancy, provided you officially resided in Switzerland during this time.

University graduates must expect to wait for a period of 120 days before receiving any benefit. This will then be paid to them for a period of 90 days except in cases where graduates were employed for a sufficient enough time during their studies that they are entitled to a longer period of payment. This is examined on an individual basis. The amount of unemployment benefit a person receives depends on age: Graduates over 25 years receive CHF 3220.-; if younger and childless, they receive CHF 1660.-

Personal consultations are held with a RAV officer in order to agree how many applications are to be sent each month, and which jobs you will be expected to accept (volume of hours, commute, job requirements, etc.). Acceptable work is defined as follows:

  • The salary corresponds to local and sector standards
  • The salary amounts to at least 70% of the insured salary; the position corresponds to standard employment conditions under Swiss OR (Swiss Law of Obligations)
  • The commute is no longer than 4 hours a day
  • The work corresponds to the candidate’s skills and previous employment.

The list on which candidates enter information on the efforts they have made to find a job is checked monthly by the RAV officer and is used as the basis for granting benefits. If you make insufficient effort to find acceptable work or you reject a position suggested by RAV, you can - depending on your culpability - lose entitlement to benefits for a period of up to 60 days. If acceptable work is offered to you, you are obliged to take it.

If you are unemployed for a longer period, reintegration steps will be considered.

Academics and RAV

RAV does not offer student advisory services itself but works with corresponding service centers and some special programs are available for academics. Traineeships are also encouraged as they open up a wider contact network to academics searching for work.

In general, it can be said that academics are not RAV’s main target audience. Since it is difficult for RAV consultants to judge the competencies gained on a university program, they can only give limited advice to unemployed academics.