Work contracts in Switzerland

Work contracts in Switzerland

Once you have found a job in Switzerland that you like and have completed the thorough interview process and CV analysis, you will then be at the stage to negotiate and sign your contract. Contracts in Switzerland set the parameters of the working relationship between the employer and employee.

According to the official Swiss Code of Obligations, Switzerland assures “maximum freedom of contract”, allowing for the freedom to decide upon the terms of the contract without significant government oversight while working in Switzerland. This means that the format of the contract is for the employer and employee to decide upon together.

Editing and signing a work contract in Switzerland (Arbeitsvertrag)

If you have accepted a job offer from an international company in Switzerland, they will begin to write a contract and will send it to you once it is completed. Then, you are encouraged to read the whole contract to make sure that you are happy with all the terms listed.

If you have a query about a certain clause, it is essential that you contact your company to clarify what it means and to discuss possible amendments. Once you are bound by a contract, you cannot modify its content without a revision, with the consent of your employer, so it is essential to make sure the contract is good before you sign it.

If you believe that you are being unfairly restricted or underpaid in your contract, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer for further advice.

Things that are included in a Swiss contract

Any job offer of full-time or part-time work in Switzerland must have a thorough and completed work contract. It is highly recommended that you check your contract thoroughly to avoid confusion and highlight possible changes you might have to make. Some of the most common things detailed in Swiss work contracts are:

  • Description of the role
  • Date of commencement of contract
  • Duration of the contract
  • List the county (canton) where your contract will be enforced
  • Notice and criteria for contract termination or grounds for losing your job
  • Working hours
  • Salary and the expected deductions from social security
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Bonuses and listed expenses
  • Sick pay
  • Labour agreements such as union affiliation
  • Confidentiality clauses and liability criteria
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Details regarding the company’s pension scheme

Contract types in Switzerland

Switzerland has several different types of work contracts. The contracts are usually defined by the amount of work you do for a company and the frequency of the work you are doing.

Part-time contracts

If you are working less than 90 percent of official working hours, your contract is considered to be part-time. Part-time contracts are more flexible than full-time contracts and can allow for more flexible working hours as well as allow you to pursue multiple careers. It is highly unlikely for a company to allow you to work for someone else while on a full-time contract.

Full-time contracts

Full-time contracts are the most common in Switzerland. These contracts usually include probationary periods where the contract can be terminated by either side in order to gain flexibility. The Swiss system places the responsibility of writing contracts solely with the company, so it is highly recommended to study your contract thoroughly before signing.

Fixed-term and permanent contracts

Both part-time and full-time work contracts can be designed to be fixed-term or permanent. Fixed-term contracts are contracts that can last for a specific period of time. After the time cited in the contract is up, it is up to the employer as to whether they offer an extension to the fixed-term contract, upgrade it to a permanent contract, or not offer a new contract.

Permanent contracts are those where the time worked is only defined by the wishes of employer and employee. Both parties are allowed to terminate the contract under certain conditions, with the employee usually needing a notice period before they are able to leave. Once again, the onus is on the employer and the employee to devise the best contract to ensure a positive working relationship.

Job sharing in Switzerland

According to the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS), around 4 percent of employees job share in Switzerland. Job sharing is where you agree to split the number of hours listed in a full- or part-time contract. This is a mutual agreement between two people and requires the consent of your employer. Job sharing can be an excellent way to maintain a good work-life balance such as for raising a family or during pregnancy.

Temporary contracts or business transactions

If you plan to work for a company for the time it takes to complete a specific project, you will most likely be offered a temporary contract. These contracts are completed upon the completion of a pre-agreed project or service. These contracts can be offered as a pay per hour salary or a lump sum amount. All production contracts are pre-agreed in the same way as fixed-term contracts, with special criteria allowed for the termination of the contract.

Can I work as a freelancer in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, working as a freelancer still requires a company to be involved in order to work independently. Freelancers, therefore, must set up their own company in order to work as a freelancer. Some companies do offer independent working solutions where, although you officially work for a holding company, you will be able to work freely.

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