Switzerland follows the Continental European tradition of distinguishing between public and private law. This fundamental distinction affects, inter alia, the body of law applicable to employment relationships in that there is a different legal basis for employment relationships of government personnel and those of private employees. While employment relationships with private employers are essentially governed by individual contracts, collective employment agreements and statutory rules contained in the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO), employment relationships of federal, state, or local government personnel are subject to the public law of the respective public entity. Still, public law also has a considerable impact on private employment relationships and, for example, the Swiss Labor Act (and the various ordinances thereto) regulates in detail e.g. the maximum weekly working hours, the requirements and conditions of night and Sunday work as well as the protection of pregnant and minor employees also for private employment relationships.
This overview of Swiss employment law, revised and updated as per August 2014, is confined to the statutory (private and public) law governing private employment relationships. It is intended to give foreign HR and legal professionals a first overview of Swiss Employment law.