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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Reader question: Does my Swiss employer have a right to fire me when I’m sick?

If you miss work due to illness, you might be worried about your rights at work. This is what Switzerland’s labour law says about being dismissed while on a sick leave.

Reader question: Does my Swiss employer have a right to fire me when I'm sick?
Getting sick in Switzerland may get you fired, but not immediately. Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Being laid up with an illness is bad enough without having to worry about being let go from your job.

Generally speaking, workers in Switzerland are well protected through labour laws and collective agreements between employers and professional associations or trade unions, which set the terms and conditions of employment.

These categories are wide-ranging, including wages, holiday time, leaves of absence, as well as worker’s and employer’s rights during illness-related absences.

So what happens if you fall ill?

If you are absent for more than three days, you must present a medical certificate mentioning your diagnosis and how many days (or weeks or months) you will be absent from work.

During this time you will continue to receive your salary for a period of time based on the duration of your employment (see below) and whether your company has a sickness benefit insurance for employees

In this case, you will continue to be paid for up to 730 days for illness that lasts over 900 days.

But while most employers in Switzerland have this insurance, some don’t. If you happen to work for the latter kind,  you will continue to get your salary but for a very limited period: three weeks in the first year of employment, with increases for every additional year, up to a maximum of four months.

This period does, however, vary depending on the canton.

Does this mean you can’t be fired while sick?

No, your job is not going to be there waiting for you until you recover — you are protected from dismissal only for a limited period of time, depending on how long you have been employed at a company.

Your boss must keep you on for:

  •        30 days in the first year of work;
  •        90 days from the second to the fifth year of work; and
  •       180 days from the sixth year of work.

The only exception to this rule is if you get sick during the trial or probation period — usually between one or three months after you start a new job.

If that’s the case, the employer has the right to terminate your contract.

What if you fall ill after receiving or giving notice — in other words, you already know you will be leaving your job at a previously determined time?

If this happens, the notice period is postponed for the duration of your sick leave, and will resume once you are able to return to work.

More information about dismissal during sick leave can be found here.

The same rules apply if you are laid up after an accident — for the purposes of your employment, illness and post-accident recovery are the same.

Other absences

Situations might come up when you have to take time off for work for reasons other than sickness. Can you be fired?

In Switzerland, employees are allowed to take paid absence due to extreme or extraordinary situations other than sickness, including accidents, military service, marriage, and death of a close relative.

You can find out more about what absences are permitted under the law, including maternity and paternity leave here:

Everything you need to know about annual leave in Switzerland

And this is a useful guide about the employment laws all people working in Switzerland should know:

Getting fired in Switzerland: The employment laws you need to know about

Please keep in mind that this is a guide only and should not take the place of qualified legal advice. 
 

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For members

JOBS

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

Switzerland’s two largest cities and their surrounding areas are where most employment opportunities can be found. This is what you should know about what each of these locations has to offer.

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

While Zurich and Geneva are different in some regards, such as the language spoken there — Swiss-German in the former and French in the latter — the two cities also have some things in common.

For instance, both frequently feature among the most expensive cities to live in various international surveys.

The latest one, carried out by a global mobility organisation, ECA International, found that globally Geneva and Zurich were ranked in the third and seventh place, respectively, in a survey of 20 most expensive cities for international residents.

However, on the European scale, Geneva was placed in top spot and Zurich in third.

But what about their job markets? Where should you look for a job — in Zurich or Geneva?

Your search may depend on personal factors such the area where you already live (or want to live) and the language you speak.

If you are fluent in French but not so much in Swiss German (or high German), then the choice is clear (and vice-versa). Even if English may be the main language in the office, you will still heed to speak local language outside of work.

But if you are open to moving wherever good job opportunities are plentiful, regardless of language skills, which city / area should you opt for?

The Local asked Stephan Surber, Senior Partner, Page Executive – a sister company to Michael Page recruiter for some insight.

Which market is more attractive to qualified employees, and why?

“Both Geneva and Zurich provide considerable opportunities to skilled professionals”, Surber said.

However, according to the Michael Page Swiss Job Index, the number of advertised jobs in May was over nine times bigger for canton Zurich than for canton Geneva. 

Do both cities/region offer similar positions in similar industries, or are they different and if so, how?

“Both offer roles in key industries such as financial and professional services, as well as health and life sciences”, Surber said.

They typically differ from one another in the concentration of industries. For example, Geneva has a higher concentration of international NGOs such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organisation, as well as commodity traders.

Zurich also has these sectors but is better known for its concentration of Swiss-based, international financial institutions such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re, among others.

Is there a difference in terms of salaries for the same jobs / positions in each city?

There is no significant difference for professionals, in salary and compensation levels, according to Surber.

He pointed out that salaries in all major Swiss cities are at similar levels, with differences typically occurring between major Swiss cities and smaller, regional areas, and within small to medium organisations.

Compensation levels also vary across industries and according to the level of experience and the type of role.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland

Demand is especially strong right now in sectors such as technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as the private market industry.

For job seekers who are new to either city, Surber recommends building your professional network, for example by joining local chambers of commerce and / or professional associations.

These articles provide more information about finding work:

‘It’s competitive’: Essential advice for finding a job in Zurich

How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier
 

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