Note: This page refers to the individual employment contract which is subject to private employment contract laws (Swiss Code of Obligations Art. 319 to 362). Please note that special provisions apply to collective employment contracts, standard employment contracts, and special employment contracts such as apprenticeship contracts, traveling salespeople’s contracts, homeworkers’ contracts, and seafarer’s work contracts.
An employment contract is not bound to any particular form (Swiss Code of Obligations 320). It can therefore be concluded in writing, verbally, or implicitly. It is concluded at the moment when employer and employer are agreed on the key points of the collaboration. However, a written contract is urgently advised, otherwise it is difficult to prove claims in the event of conflict.
Irrespective of the form of the contract, the employer must inform the employee in writing no later than one month after the start of the employment relationship on the following points (if the duration of the employment relationship is undefined or is to last for more than one month [Swiss Code of Obligations 330b]):
Please note that a copy of the staff or operating regulations is often included with the employment contract. If reference to these regulations is made in the employment contract, they will form an integral part of your contract and are therefore binding.
In principle, employment conditions can be freely negotiated: For example, rules deviating from the law concerning overtime pay, any non-compete clause, deviations from the legal notice periods et al can be agreed. However, in order that the employment conditions are valid, they must be agreed in writing, i.e. signed by each party. Anything not stipulated in the contract is often regulated by other provisions (i.e. Swiss Code of Obligations and other legal sources).
Although the contractual parties are relatively free in creating the employment contract, its contents must not contravene compulsory statutory provisions. These provisions protect the employee as the weaker contractual partner and guarantee certain minimum standards. These are laid down in articles 361 and 362 of the Swiss Code of Obligations.
Included in the compulsory statutory provisions are, for example, entitlement to at least four weeks’ vacation per year, entitlement to continued pay in the event of incapacity to work, protection against dismissal in the case of the employee’s incapacity to work, and a maximum trial period of three months. Agreements that undermine these mandatory provisions are void.
Despite widespread belief to the contrary, points not contained in the compulsory provisions include salary level, notice period, optional benefits such as gratuity payments, bonuses, or a company car, and more than 4 weeks’ holiday.
Bräunlich Keller, Irmtraud. 2011. Arbeitsrecht. Vom Vertrag bis zur Kündigung (German) Zurich: Beobachter publishers.