Sick, holiday & maternity leave in Switzerland

Sick, holiday & maternity leave in Switzerland

If you are working in Switzerland, you will be entitled to different breaks and holidays. For example, when you fall ill, when you are pregnant or when you want to go on holiday. International companies in Switzerland offer different amounts of holiday and are mandated to provide some form of sick and maternity leave. If you are looking for a job in Switzerland, it is essential you find out your rights to sick and maternity leave before signing a contract.

Holiday leave while working in Switzerland

Holiday leave in Switzerland is decided upon by the employer and employee through a work contract. In your contract, your employer will detail how many working days you will be allowed to take as paid holiday each year. During this time, you will receive your full salary as normal. All employees in Switzerland are entitled to at least four weeks of holiday per year if they are working full-time, with some companies offering more.

Most companies will have a specific method to request holiday leave. This involves requesting the time in advance of the trip and may involve negotiating what time would be best to go as to not impede the employees’ work.

Alongside holiday leave, all employees in Switzerland have the option to take national and regional public holidays off. Counties (cantons) have up to eight public holidays a year which employees can use as holiday time alongside national holidays. If you choose to work on a public holiday in Switzerland, your work is classed as working on a Sunday in your working hours and you will receive additional pay for doing so.

Expiry of Swiss holidays

If you do not use your allocated amount of holiday days listed by your employer in your work contract, they will expire unless stated otherwise.

Sick leave in Switzerland

Employers in Switzerland are required to continue paying employees who are off sick. If you find yourself ill and unable to work, you must inform your employer. Some employers will have instructions on when and how to do this in their work contracts. The illness must constitute an inability to continue working at the same standard and rate that you could have if you were not ill. If you are self-employed, you must take out a form of sick leave insurance.

If you have fallen ill, you are able to take up to three weeks of sick leave before having to apply for further help. After the third day of illness, you will have to provide a confirmed note from your doctor. Bear in mind some employers may ask for a doctor's note as early as a day. During this time, you will receive your full salary.

If you believe that you may be able to work for part of a day or should be able to work but at a lesser rate, please contact your employer who will discuss options for flexible working.

Sick leave for serious illness

If you have a serious illness or have fallen ill for longer than three weeks, you must inform your employer and provide evidence in the form of a note from your doctor. Employers typically take out an insurance scheme like loss of earnings insurance that allows you to claim 80 percent of your salary during your absence. This scheme can last for up to 720 days. However, if you have been permanently disabled and cannot work at all for more than 30 days, it is best to apply for disability insurance. If your employer has not taken out an insurance scheme, there are several safety nets available that are provided by your local canton, or schemes that you may be able to purchase privately.

Sick leave in Switzerland due to an accident at work

If you have been made ill or were injured on the way to, from or during work, you will be able to claim accident and occupational illness insurance. This insurance provides a sustainable income for periods of illness or injury caused by accidents at work or on the way to and from work. This scheme will support you with an allowance as well as rehabilitation to allow you to return to work.

Falling ill during a trial or probation period in Switzerland

If you have fallen ill while in a trial or probation phase of employment, you are not protected by sick leave and may have your contract terminated. If you do have a probation or trial period, it will be shown in your work contract.

Swiss maternity leave

If you are planning to have a baby in Switzerland, you will be entitled to maternity leave when the child is born. Anyone who is employed on a full- or part-time contract in Switzerland can benefit from maternity leave. The time is designed to be used to take care of the child in their early stages of development. During maternity leave, you cannot be fired or made redundant and can access maternity allowance in Switzerland.

Criteria for maternity leave in Switzerland

In order to qualify for maternity leave, you will have to:

  • Declare the pregnancy to your employer. There is no time limit to this, but Swiss families usually wait at least 12 weeks before announcing the pregnancy.
  • Be employed on a full- or part-time contract.
  • Must have registered the baby within three days of giving birth.

How long is maternity leave in Switzerland?

Maternity leave in Switzerland is at least 14 weeks from when the child is born. Some international companies offer more time so that you can have more time to care for your child. Some other companies offer longer maternity leave if you have twins, triplets or more. If you would like to start your maternity leave earlier than the birth of your child, you must have a note from your doctor.

Can men take time off when having a baby in Switzerland?

As of January 2021, the government has mandated time for paternity leave for expectant fathers. This allows for two weeks of leave for the father of the child, if the father is resident in the same household as the child and is their biological child.

Care leave

According to the Swiss Code of Obligations, there is now a provision for employees to take time off to help care for family members or partners who have suffered an injury, illness or are health impaired. This provision is for brief absences only and can only be taken out for three days at a time, for a maximum of 10 days a year. During this time, you will receive a full salary and will be able to give short-term care to members of your family.

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