Answers to all your questions.

Job references

Every employee has the right to object to an employer’s reference. Most of the time, an agreement can be reached by discussing the issue openly and frankly. Going to court is only the last resort.

Generally, no. The Swiss Code of Obligations states that every employee has the right to request an employer’s reference at any time. A confirmation of employment is issued at the specific request of the employee.

The law requires that an employer’s references is true and favourable, which is why many employers use coded language. However, since there is no common key for such codes, it has become virtually standard to suspect a code in almost every reference. We recommend that you talk to your supervisor before the reference is written to ask him/her to write the reference without using coded language and, if necessary, to add a note to this effect.

There is no common key to such codes. While some lists of coded languages are, indeed, being circulated, they are not uniform or standardised in any way. But a very short and scanty reference in spite of longer employment, failure to include good wishes for the future, highlighting trivial areas and omitting important ones are strong indications that the performance was not considered satisfactory.

A prospective employer may only ask about a criminal record if having a criminal record makes an applicant unsuitable for the job in question. For example, this would apply to a person convicted of property offences who seeks a job as an accountant.

Probation period / Termination

Generally, an employee can be terminated with immediate effect in the following cases: refusal to work, taking time off without the employer’s consent, committing criminal offences in the workplace such as theft, embezzlement or sexual harassment, as well as competing with the employer’s company or poaching staff.
In other cases, a warning should be given first, for example, in the case of skipping work repeatedly, being late, deliberately poor performance at work, etc.

According to the Swiss Code of Obligations, the first month of employment is considered a probationary period. This may be extended to a maximum of three months. During the probationary period, a notice period of seven days is required for both parties. After this maximum of three months, both parties should know whether they want to continue working together. However, if the employee is absent (illness, accident, military service or civil defence), the probationary period may be extended by the same amount of time. This list can be added on to by contract (e.g., holidays).

During the probationary period, a notice period of seven days must be observed. What matters is that the notice of termination must be received by the addressee before the end of the probationary period.

There is no protection against dismissal due to no-fault illness or accident of the employee during the probationary period.

The following applies under Article 334 of the Swiss Code of Obligations: A fixed-term employment relationship ends without notice. If a fixed-term employment relationship is automatically continued after the expiry of the agreed duration, it will be deemed an employment relationship for an indefinite period. Such an employment relationship (after the probationary period) is subject to the following notice periods: one month during the first year of employment, two months during the second to ninth years of employment and three months from the tenth year of employment. Generally, these notice periods may be extended.


The salary must usually be paid at the end of the month. The same is true of commissions. But a share of the business result is usually paid out annually. In this case, the payment must be made no later than six months after the end of the financial year.

Most professions are represented by associations that can provide information on typical local and industry salaries. Of course, the salary always depends on experience, the area of responsibility and the job.


This is governed by the provisions in Article 329 of the Swiss Code of Obligations. It is, in fact, the employer who determines the time, but the employee’s wishes must be taken into account where this is compatible with the interests of the company. The minimum length is also regulated by the Code. Leave must usually be granted in the course of the relevant year of employment.

The length of the leave depends on your age: up to the age of 20, it is a minimum of five weeks, and four weeks a year after that. Leave must be granted for years of employment commenced in accordance with the duration of the employment relationship. Some companies increase the leave to five weeks for employees aged 50 and over.

Yes. If you are employed on a monthly salary, you are entitled to the same amount of leave as a full-time employee. Frequently, especially in the case of employees paid by the hour, leave is paid as an allowance on top of the hourly pay.


A prospective employer may only ask about a criminal record if having a criminal record makes an applicant unsuitable for the job in question. For example, this would apply to a person convicted of property offences who seeks a job as an accountant.

Employers are generally not allowed to ask about pregnancy. Employees must not be discriminated against either directly or indirectly because of their gender (Swiss Gender Equality Act), that is, being pregnant must not cause unequal treatment of the applicant concerned. However, if the job involves a higher risk for mother and child, or if a pregnancy makes it impossible to perform the job, the applicant has a duty to inform the employer.

The border zones for which a cross-border commuter permit is issued are located in the cantons bordering Germany: Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Solothurn, the northern parts of the cantons of Aargau and Zurich, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, St. Gallen and the two Appenzell.

Generally, yes. But in this case, too, you must have a work permit. This must be obtained by your future employer or your temping agency.

Mobbing is essentially behaviour by supervisors or co-workers that results in an employee being physically, psychologically or mentally stressed (or all of these combined). In most cases, the main goal is to get the employee to the point where he or she leaves the company. It is almost impossible to defend oneself against such – often defamatory – actions. As a result, people quite often choose to change jobs. Of course, you can try to get help from your supervisors or the HR manager. However, it is also important not to suspect a conspiracy behind every problem in the department or team.

When applying for a job, it is recommended that you say or write as little as possible – despite often justifiable resentment about what happened at the last company. But be honest about the reasons for changing jobs.
Do not apply explicitly as a victim of mobbing, however, and instead express above all an interest in the new job. Also, do not get worked up in the interview about the problems at your last company, but explain objectively and briefly the reasons that made you change jobs, and be sure to remain objective (no sweeping attacks on your former co-workers in the team or the employer!).