Employees

The status of employees in the canton of Vaud is governed by a contract of employment with the employer, complete with all the rights and obligations that this entails. In numerous industries, employment contracts are also governed by collective agreements or specimen contracts.

Content of the employment contract

The following details at least must be recorded in writing (employment contract or recruitment letter):

  • the names of the parties (employer and employee)
  • the date when the contract takes effect
  • the function of the employee, the salary and any fringe benefits (such as bonuses, Christmas pay and so on)
  • the length of the working week

The employee must be provided with this information in writing at least one month before the employment relationship commences. Any modifications also require the written form.

Most issues not expressly included in the contract by the parties are covered by other laws and regulations, most notably the Code of Obligations (CO), collective bargaining agreements (CCT) and specimen employment contracts (CTT).

Collective bargaining agreements (CCT) and specimen employment contracts (CTT)

Apart from the personal contract and the regulations in the Code of Obligations, the rights and obligations resulting from employment relationships are often covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CCT) which is applicable throughout a given industry or enterprise. Collective agreements are the result of negotiations between trade unions and employers or employer associations. In addition to general provisions regarding the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, the collective agreements contain clauses covering:

  • the conclusion, content and termination of personal employment contracts, and
  • the modalities of applying and monitoring the collective agreement.

A specimen employment contract (CTT) may also be imposed by the authorities for certain types of work (agricultural, household and so on).

Pay

Swiss law does not set a minimum wage. The amount of the salary is determined by agreement between the employer and the employee at the time of hiring. Some collective agreements and specimen contracts do include minimum wages.
The employer is required to continue paying the salary for a limited period in the event of the employee not being able to work for a reason beyond his or her immediate control (such as illness, accident or military service, for example). This period depends on the length of the employment relationship, but the contract must be for at least three months, or have been in effect for more than three months, for this obligation to be applicable.
In turn, employees are required to explain their absence, most commonly by submitting a doctor's certificate to the employer.

The homepages of the Swiss Directorate of Labour (SECO) and the Vaud employment agency (SDE) provide more information in this regard.

Period of notice

The applicable period of notice is stated in the employment contract, the specimen employment contract or the collective bargaining agreement. In the absence of a contract or collective agreement, the periods set forth in the Code of Obligations are applicable:

  • during the probationary period: seven calendar days
  • first year of service: one month to the end of the month
  • from the 2nd to the 9th year of service: two months the end of the month
  • from the 10th year of service: three months to the end of the month

The period of notice starts from the date when the notice termination is received by the other party.

Paid leave

Employees have the right to a minimum of four weeks of paid leave each year (or five weeks if they are aged under 20). The employment contract or the collective agreement may permit more. Paid leave is intended to allow for rest and relaxation, and it may not be paid out in cash.
Nevertheless, if the contract is only short-term or the work is irregular, it is possible to waive paid leave in return for compensation corresponding to the salary pertaining to the end of each month. In this case, it is absolutely essential for the arrangement to be contractually agreed and for the amount paid in lieu of paid leave to be explicitly shown as such on the salary slip and kept separate from the regular salary.

Foreign workers in Switzerland

Nationals of member states of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are still required to hold a residence permit and a work permit, but they do enjoy equality with Swiss citizens on the labour market. Transitional arrangements are applicable for nationals of the new member states of the EU following the latest enlargement.

Third-country nationals are subject to more restrictive rules and regulations regarding foreigners and the labour market.

All foreign nationals who perform an economic activity in Switzerland benefit from the same provisions of labour law (notably regarding employment contracts, protection of workers and so on) as their Swiss colleagues.

For more details, go to the Swiss Portal Foreign employees – working in Switzerland

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