Collective redundancies are defined as dismissals within a 30-day period of:
- more than ten employees in an establishment of 20 − 100 employees; or
- 10% or more of the employees in an establishment of 101 − 300 employees; or
- at least 30 employees in an establishment of 300 or more employees. The total number of employees also includes those employees whose employment relationship was terminated by agreement between the employee and the employer based on the same grounds for which other employees are being dismissed, if at least 5 employees were dismissed by notice of termination.
The employer must inform the works council and trade union (or directly affected employees if there is no works council or trade union) of its intentions at least 30 days prior to giving notice of termination, and must enter into negotiations to reach a compromise or reduce the number of affected employees, etc.
The employer must simultaneously inform the Labour Office in writing:
- that it has discussed the collective redundancies and its implications (i.e. the later results of these discussions) with the trade union, works council or affected employees; and
- of the actions it has taken in cooperation with the trade union / works council in relation to the collective redundancies; and
- of the number, characteristics, professional qualification, etc. of the employees to be made redundant.
The statutory provisions regarding mass dismissals apply where the employer – within a time period of 30 days – gives notice for reasons unrelated to any particular employee and affecting:
- at least ten employees at a business normally employing between 21 and 99 employees; or
- at least 10% of the employees at a business normally employing between 100 and 300 employees; or
- at least 30 employees at a business normally employing more than 300 employees.
The provisions governing mass redundancies do not apply in the event that business operations have ceased by court order or mass redundancies have occurred due to bankruptcy or a composition agreement with assignment of assets.
Prior to giving notice, the employer must consult the employee’s representative body or the employees, and at the same time notify the cantonal labour office in writing of the planned mass dismissal. these bodies have consultation rights only. Neither the employees nor the cantonal office are able to block a mass dismissal.
The employer is obliged to enter into social-plan negotiations if it (i) usually employs at least 250 employees and (ii) intends to terminate at least 30 employees within 30 days for reasons that are unrelated to an individual employee. Notices given over a longer period but based on the same operational decision must be added together.
The employer negotiates:
- with the employee associations that are party to the collective employment contract if a party to this collective employment contract;
- with the organisation representing the employees; or
- directly with the employees if they have no representive organisation.
An arbitral tribunal will establish a social plan by way of an arbitral award if such negotiations fail.