Employment law in Switzerland


Swisscom is one of the largest employers in Switzerland, with around 17,400 full-time equivalent positions. The legal terms and conditions of employment in Switzerland are based on the Swiss Code of Obligations. The collective employment agreement (CEA) sets out the key terms and conditions of employment between Swisscom and its employees. It also contains provisions governing relations between Swisscom and its social partners. A new CEA and social plan entered into force on 1 January 2013. Swisscom IT Services and cablex AG, which operate in a special market and competitive environment, have their own CEA. At the end of December 2013, 13,869 FTEs or 83.8% of the workforce were covered by the collective employment agreement.

General terms and conditions of employment which exceed the minimum standard defined by the Code of Obligations are governed by the special provisions for Swisscom management staff in Switzerland.

Employee representation and union relations

Swisscom is committed to fostering constructive dialogue with its social partners (the syndicom union and the transfair staff association) as well as the employee associations (employee representatives). The collective employment agreement (CEA) and the social plan are good examples of fair and consensual solutions. In the event of significant operational changes, Swisscom involves the social partners and employee associations at an early stage. The CEA grants the social partners and the employee associations rights of co-determination in various areas. In general and free elections in autumn 2013, Swisscom employees elected the new members of the employee associations charged with exercising these rights. Two employee representatives from the unions also sit on the Board of Directors of Swisscom Ltd.

Collective employment agreement (CEA)

On 1 January 2013 a new CEA entered into force. It included a number of improvements to what were already very good terms and conditions, placing greater emphasis on staff development while also improving the rights of part-time employees. The working week for employees covered by the CEA is 40 hours. Five weeks’ annual leave (or 27 days from age 50 and six weeks from age 60), 17 weeks’ maternity leave and ten days’ paternity leave are also among the progressive fringe benefits defined by the CEA. Employees also enjoy an additional week of paid leave after five years of service. Swisscom pays a child and education allowance which in most cases is above the statutory cantonal allowance, and grants leave on special family-related grounds such as adoption leave. In the event of incapacity to work due to illness or accident, Swisscom continues to pay the employee’s full salary for up to 730 days.

Working-hour models

Swisscom promotes work-life balance by offering working conditions that enable both full- and part-time employees to balance their professional and private lives: flexible working hours (the standard model used by a majority of employees), variable working-hour models such as annual working hours, a long-term working-time account and part-time working from the age of 58. Employees may also work from home with the consent of their line manager. This option is used by many employees and is becoming increasingly easier thanks to tools such as Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC). Swisscom bears the label “home office friendly”.

Social plan

Swisscom’s social plan sets out the benefits provided to employees covered by the CEA who are affected by redundancy. The new social plan offers more resources in order to improve employees’ employability. It also provides for retraining measures in the event of long-term job cuts. Responsibility for implementing the social plan lies with Worklink AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swisscom. Worklink AG opens up new prospects for Swisscom employees affected by job cuts, providing them with advice and support in their search for new employment outside the company or arranging temporary internal or external placements. The success rate is high, with 82% of those affected finding a new job prior to the end of the social plan programme.

Swisscom also operates special employment schemes (phased partial retirement, temporary placements in similar areas of expertise) in line with its commitment to providing fair solutions for older employees affected by changes in skill set requirements or redundancy. The pension plan offers employees opting for early retirement (from age 58) financial support in the form of a bridging pension until they reach the statutory retirement age.

Employee remuneration

Salary system

Competitive pay packages help to attract and retain highly-skilled and motivated specialists and managerial staff. Swisscom’s salary system comprises a basic salary, a variable performance-related component and bonuses. The basic salary is determined based on function, individual performance and the job market, while the variable component is contingent on business performance as well as individual performance in the case of executive functions. Business performance is measured based on achievement of the Swisscom Group’s overarching targets and the targets of the respective business segment or division. The targets primarily relate to key financial indicators and customer loyalty. Individual performance is measured according to the achievement of results- and conduct-related goals. Swisscom awards share bonuses to employees covered by the CEA who deliver outstanding performance. Details on remuneration paid to members of the Group Executive Board are provided in the Remuneration Report.

See Report
Minimum wage

There is no legally defined minimum wage in Switzerland. Instead, this is negotiated by the social partners in the context of collective employment agreements. The new CEA which entered into force on 1 January 2013 included an increase in minimum salary to CHF 52,000, or CHF 50,000 in the case of cablex. Swisscom’s operations are spread throughout Switzerland, and when it comes to determining salaries there is very little difference between locations. A study of starting salaries for the youngest employees (up to age 21) at the widely-applied starting-function level found that the average basic annual salary in this category is CHF 57,400 or CHF 55,770 at cablex: in other words, 10% above the minimum salary.

Pay round

In November 2011 Swisscom and the social partners signed a two-year pay round agreement for 2012 and 2013, as a result of which Swisscom (with the exception of Swisscom IT Services) increased its total salary payout in 2013 in Switzerland by 1.2%; of this, 0.8% went on general salary increases and 0.4% on individual salary increases.

For Swisscom IT Services, Swisscom and the social partners concluded a separate agreement to reflect the market environment and the competitive situation specific to the IT market. This resulted in Swisscom IT Services awarding an across-the-board salary increase of 0.8% to employees covered by the CEA in 2013.