The Swiss employment contract

The Swiss employment contract
An employment contract in Switzerland is binding on both employer and employee, and defines the terms and conditions of the employment relationship. Employment contracts can be concluded either verbally or in writing.

Table of contents

The employment contract in Switzerland: legal bases

The Swiss employment contract: legal foundations

The employment contract is governed by articles 319 to 362 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO).
According to article 319 of the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO): By a individual employment contractUnder this contract, the worker undertakes to work for the employer for a limited or indefinite period, and the employer undertakes to pay him a salary based on the worker's remuneration.


Unlike other countries, the Swiss system is characterized by a liberal approach to employment law. Indeed, Swiss law allows either the employer or the employee to terminate the employment contract without cause.

In most cases, the law does not stipulate any formal requirements for the conclusion of an employment contract (art. 320 CO). It is therefore possible to conclude an employment contract by writes, orally or even conclusive acts.

Characteristics of employment contracts in Switzerland

In Switzerland, an employment contract includes 4 features:

Visit subordinate relationship is the essential distinguishing criterion of an employment contract from other contracts. In the event of a dispute over the classification of a contract, the judge will carefully analyze whether there is a relationship of subordination between the contracting parties.

This problem often arises when it comes to distinguishing between a contract of employment and a contract of mandate. This distinction is very important in practice, as employment contracts may be subject to numerous rules designed to protect the employee (e.g. notice period for termination, minimum wage, collective bargaining agreement, etc.).

What's more, the self-employed agent alone pays 100 % of his social security contributions, whereas in principle the employer and the employee bear 50 % of the payment of these charges.

Termination of a Swiss employment contract

There are two types of employment contract in Switzerland: the permanent and the temporary. fixed term and indeterminate.

Termination of an open-ended contract

When concluded for an indefinite period, the contract may be terminated by either party within the legal or contractual time limits, without any particular reason (art. 335 of the Swiss Code of Obligations). The time limit will depend on the employee's length of service with the company.

Visit termination of an employment contract in Switzerland must comply with the following points:

Termination of a fixed-term contract

A fixed-term contract can only be terminated for "just cause". According to the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), just cause includes all circumstances which, in accordance with the rules of good faith, do not allow the person giving notice to be required to perform his or her obligations under the contract. continuation employment relationships.

The parties must therefore reach the end of the term of the contract, in order to separate or terminate it in advance by mutual agreement (art. 334 CO).

Termination of employment contract

Indefinite duration

In principle, the employment contract may be terminated subject to a notice period of seven days during the trial period (art. 335b CO). Unless otherwise stipulated, the trial period corresponds to the first month of employment, and may in no case exceed three months (art. 335b CO).

Secondly, the employment contract can be terminated subject to a notice period ofone month during the first year service two months between the second and the ninth year of service and three months (art. 335c CO).

A notice period of less than one month is only permitted during the first year of service (art. 335c para. 2 CO).

Fixed term

Unless renewed, the fixed-term employment contract may not be terminated before the end date (except for just cause or by mutual agreement between employer and employee).

In addition, if the parties continue their working relationship after the period agreed in the fixed-term contract, the law presumes that the contract will henceforth be open-ended.

Also, if the contract is renewed several times for a fixed term (e.g. two or three times), judges may consider that the contract has become an open-ended contract as well.

Minimum wage

Swiss law does not provide for a minimum wage at federal level.

The canton of Geneva currently sets a minimum gross hourly wage of CHF 24.- per hour. Collective bargaining agreements in specific sectors (e.g. construction, catering and cleaning) lay down minimum wages and specific working conditions.


Swiss law provides for a minimum 4 weeks and 5 weeks for employees under the age of 20.

When employees are paid by the hour, their vacation entitlement can be replaced by an increase in their remuneration.

Collective labor agreements (CLA)

A Collective Labor Agreement (CLA) is an agreement between employers' and employees' unions, the aim of which is to regulate working conditions and relations between the parties (Art. 356 to 358 CO).

Collective bargaining agreements and standard employment contracts concern sectors in which it is considered that the worker should be protected. These include sectors such as construction, hotels and restaurants, domestic service, etc.

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How do I draw up an employment contract in Switzerland?

To draw up an employment contract in Switzerland, you'll need to comply with current legislation and check whether a collective bargaining agreement exists.

Frequently asked questions about employment contracts in Switzerland

The employment contract is governed by articles 319 to 362 of the French Swiss Code of Obligations (CO).

Proving an oral employment contract in Switzerland can be complex. However, you can try to prove the existence of your employment contract by following our recommendations.

  • Collect testimonials colleagues or superiors with whom you have worked
  • Collect evidencesuch as pay slips, proof of payment or correspondence with the employer (SMS, letters, e-mails)
  • Keep proof that you have received work equipmentsuch as a computer, telephone or work clothes

In Switzerland, employment contracts can be concluded in a number of different ways:

  1. Written formAlthough not required by law, an employment contract can be drawn up in writing (strongly recommended).

  2. Oral formThe employment contract can be agreed verbally between the two parties.

  3. Conclusive actionsEven without an explicit oral or written agreement, the conclusion of an employment contract can be inferred from conclusive acts. This means that if the parties' actions demonstrate that an employment relationship exists, a contract is deemed to be in place.

In principle, it is not possible to terminate a fixed-term employment contract in Switzerland.

However, a fixed-term contract can be terminated early in two cases:

  • There are "just reasons". According to the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), just cause is any circumstance which, according to the rules of good faith, does not allow the person giving notice to be required to continue the employment relationship.
  • If both parties (employer and employee) agree, they can also terminate the contract in advance of a mutual agreement.

Employment contracts can be terminated in the following ways.

Termination of an open-ended contract in Switzerland :

  • Can be terminated by employer or employee without specific reason.
  • Notice periods :
    • 7 days during the trial period.
    • 1 month for the 1st year of service.
    • 2 months for years 2 to 9.
    • 3 months after 10 years' service.


Termination of a fixed-term contract :

  • Termination before end only for "just cause" or mutual agreement.
  • If the contract continues after the end date, it becomes indefinite.

A rider to the employment contract is a document that makes it possible to modification to the previously established employment contract.