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Workers’ rights

Pregnant woman at work
(Keystone)

Workers are generally well-protected in Switzerland. The maximum full-time working week allowed for by law varies from 45 hours to 50 hours, depending on the sector. 

On average, Swiss people with full-time jobs work about 41 hours per week, according to the Federal Statistical Office. All employees are entitled to four weeks’ holidays per year, though in practice many employers offer more than the legal minimum. In addition, there are up to nine annual public holidays, depending on the canton of employment.

There is no obligation to make up for lost hours if the employee takes time off due to an accident or pregnancy. Some paid time off is also granted for a marriage, birth of a child (in the case of the father), death of a close relative and a house move. There is no set amount of time specified under Swiss laws for these events, companies can decide for themselves. More about absences from work hereexternal link.

Legally, no one can be dismissed on the basis of their sexual orientation, membership of a political party or religious group, union membership, or when prevented from working by illness, pregnancy or an accident. Under Swiss employment law, employers must grant employees time off to observe religious holidays. However, the employee must request time off at least three days in advance, and the employer make ask the employee to make up the time another day.

The principle of equal pay for women and men is enshrined in the Gender Equality Act. Both sexes must be equally compensated for equal and equivalent work. Contact the Federal Office for Gender Equality hereexternal link for information on what you need to do in the event of pay discrimination. 

There is no federal minimum wage in Switzerland. But many sectors have collective work agreements that govern wages, hours and termination procedures. All employees are entitled to a “truthful and benevolent” reference when they leave a job.

Nationals from EU and EFTA states enjoy the same rights and benefits as Swiss nationals in the Swiss labour market. In addition, workers who are sent by their foreign employers to work in Switzerland have to be paid the same rates as Swiss workers. 

Pregnancy and maternity protection

Women who work full-time and part-time in Switzerland are entitled to 14 weeks (98 days) of statutory maternity leaveexternal link at 80% of their pay, beginning at the birth of the child. The working relationship may not be terminated during the entire period of the pregnancy or in the first 16 weeks after the birth of the child.

There is no federally mandated paternity or parental leave in Switzerland, although some employers offer it voluntarily.

Work hours are restricted to nine hours a day and there is a ban on work at night for at least eight weeks before the birth. There is also protection against arduous or dangerous work and exposure to substances that are harmful to health.

More detailed information about maternity rights in French and German can be found hereexternal link and in English hereexternal link.


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