The employment Law is the most important element that governs employment in Switzerland for residents and for foreign nationals. Any foreign individual is allowed to work in Switzerland only after signing the Swiss individual contract of employment.

Types of employment contracts

The individual employment contract is the most common type of employment contract used in Switzerland. It can be signed for a limited or unlimited period of time. The employer is obliged to pay remuneration, while the employee must render labor services in favor of the employer.

Normal employment contracts refer to contracts that have very specific terms and conditions applicable to the content, notice of termination and conclusion of the contract.

In the case of such contracts, the Swiss Federal Government of the Cantonal Authorities are responsible for enacting the respective terms and conditions stipulated in the respective contracts.

CLAS are collective labor agreements that are also available in Switzerland. These contracts are used when the employees or the employees reunited as an organization or trade union are allowed to formulate the terms and conditions for the conclusion.

Duties of the employees

According to the Swiss legislations, employees have two major duties: to provide labor and duties of fidelity. Employers must respect working hours set according to the contract, with the possibility of part time work or work sharing. Specific regulations stipulate the maximum number of working hours allowed within a week, as well as night shifts or working hours on Sundays. If the employer requests the employee to perform extra working hours, these must be remunerated.

In regard of the duty of fidelity, also known as duty to desist, the employee must uphold the justified interests of the employer to the extent of due fidelity.

Duties of the employer

The employer must pay the corresponding remuneration for the work performed and it can be paid by hour, by day, by month or by year, according to the conditions specified in the employment contract. The employer must also protect the justified interests of the employees, also known as the duty of welfare. However, the statute law does not regulate these duties.

Employment as an EU/EFTA citizen

Citizens of the EU and EFTA member states have the right to travel, work and live in Switzerland. It is not required to have an authorization for short – term employment (up to three months or 90 days per calendar year). However, it is necessary to register as Swiss employee.

If the employment is lasting more than three months, the employees must obtain a residence permit, obtained from the local authorities of the commune where they reside.

Since 2015, citizens of the EU or the EFTA who are looking for jobs in Switzerland are allowed to obtain a residence permit if they have sufficient financial resources to cover their living expenses.

Employment as a third - country citizen

Third – country citizens who are residents of Switzerland must obtain an authorization before doing any type of work as self – employed individuals. The authorization is granted on justified economic grounds, if certain financial, personal and business requirements are met and considering Switzerland strict quota system for third – country nationals who wish to work in the country.

Foreign nationals who are married to Swiss citizens or to a person who holds a permanent residence permit are not required to obtain an additional authorization to work as self – employed.

If a Swiss employer offers foreign citizens employment in Switzerland, the respective employer must submit an application to the cantonal immigration authorities. If the application is accepted, it will be forwarded to the State Secretariat for Migration. The decision of the State Secretariat for Migration doesn’t constitute authorization to enter Switzerland.

Third – country citizens are granted a work permit in Switzerland only under certain conditions:

  • The established quotas have not been used up;
  • No person with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland, EU or EFTA member states;
  • Qualified workers, managers and specialists are admitted to work in Switzerland;
  • Integration criteria such as language skills, age or the ability to adjust to a new social environment or a new occupation.

Considering all these factors, it is best to seek professional advice if you pursue obtaining a work permit in Switzerland. Switzerland offers many great employment opportunities, but it is necessary to know the legislation, the requirements as well as the advantages of working in the country.



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