The purpose of the employment contract

The employment contract legally binds the employer and employee and entails obligations on both parties.

An employment contract represents an agreement between two parties concerning the fact that one of them will supply work to the other in return for remuneration. The employment contract entails rights and obligations listed in the Swiss Code of Obligations (Art. 319 et seq.) including, for the employee, the duty to provide the work envisaged and, for the employer, the duty to pay the salary and social insurance contributions and to grant paid leave.

The employment contract contains essential information such as the names and addresses of the employer and employee, the position, the salary and the weekly working hours. Anything not expressly set out in the contract is, as a general rule, regulated by the Swiss Code of Obligations or by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), if applicable. See also:

There are open-ended employment contracts, where the salary is defined generally on a monthly basis, and fixed-term contracts, where the salary is defined on a monthly or hourly basis. A fixed-term contract clearly stipulates the start and end dates of the contract.

In Switzerland, many associations representing a given business sector – for example, the Union Suisse des Patrons Pâtissiers-Confiseurs – provide standard individual employment contracts, adapted to the specifics of the job, on their websites.


The form of the individual employment contract is open, although it is usually written. A written confirmation of the terms of recruitment is required by law only in the case of contracts with apprentices or people staying in Switzerland for a short time. Moreover, certain specific provisions, such as extension of the trial period, waiver of salary in the event of overtime or a non-competition clause, must also be set out in writing.

Minimum wage

If no CBA provides for a minimum wage, the company is free to decide on the wage to be paid. The employer may also determine the composition of the salary (bonuses, benefits in kind, etc.) as long as a collective bargaining agreement does not stipulate otherwise. The 13th month salary is not provided for in law. It is therefore optional to include it in the employment contract.

The standard employment contract

In some sectors, standard employment contracts (SEC) exist. The SEC replaces the individual employment contract and functions in the same way. However, the clauses of an SEC are non-negotiable. They have been defined in advance in order to guarantee the worker a minimum salary and social security benefits.

When an SEC exists for a given profession, the employer has no choice but to submit to that SEC. The only option for not using the standard contract is to agree on a contract which favors the worker even further, with a higher wage for example.

Standard employment contracts usually concern non-unionized professions which need to be regulated to avoid wage dumping. There is an SEC at the federal level for workers in the domestic economy. Other SECs depend on the canton and concern sectors such as design, call center operators and construction.


Last modification 08.06.2023

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