Regular dismissal by the employer
Employment relationships can be terminated through expiration of time (only in the case of fixed-term contracts), termination agreements, death of the employee, and in some cases of the employer, or – as in most cases – through termination. The termination is a unilateral declaration of intent which has to be received. Unilateral means that it can be issued from one party and does not require unanimous agreement as is the case when a contract is concluded. That it has to be received means that it can be issued to one or more people. A termination can be issued without reason. It is considered to be a regular termination if it is issued in compliance with the contractual and legal notice period.
Can I issue a termination at any time?
No. First, you must comply with notice periods and dates (e.g. always at the end of the month), and secondly, there are so-called blocking periods in which you cannot issue a termination.
What is the notice period during the probation period?
If nothing else has been agreed, a notice period of seven days applies. However, this period can be shortened, extended, or even annulled in writing (or through a standard employment contract or collective labor agreement). In turn, the probation period can be extended to up to three months or annulled.
What is the notice period after the probation period?
One month in the first year of work, then two months up to and including the ninth year of employment, and then three months thereafter. These time periods can be changed in writing (or through a standard employment contract or collective labor agreement), but under one month this can only be changed through a collective labor agreement for the first year of employment.
What blocking periods apply?
Blocking periods do not apply during the probation period. After that time, the employer cannot terminate the employment relationship:
- while the employee performs obligatory military, protection, or Swiss civil service, and (provided the service lasts more than 11 days) during four weeks prior and thereafter;
- while the employee, at no fault of their own, is unable to work fully or in part due to illness or accident, with this being applicable in the first year of work for 30 days, from the second year until the fifth year for 90 days, and from the sixth year for 180 days;
- during the pregnancy of an employee and for the 16 weeks following the birth of the child;
- while the employee, with the consent of the employer, participates in a service ordered by the relevant federal authority for a relief campaign abroad.
A termination issued during one of these times is void and has no legal validity. Employers must issue a new termination. Further details on blocking periods can be found in the document for download below.
Are there reasons that are not deemed to be cause?
Certain reasons for termination are considered to be wrongful:
- Personal traits (e.g. termination because of nationality, skin color, age)
- Exercising a constitutional right, unless this violates a duty set out in the employment contract (e.g. participating in a demonstration)
- Impeding requirements of the employment relationship (e.g. termination to avoid having to give an upcoming job anniversary gift)
- Assertion of claims from the employment relationship (e.g. termination because an employee asks for compensation for overtime)
- Obligatory military or civil service
- Trade union membership or participation in union activities
- When the employee is the appointed employee representative and there is no cause for termination
- Mass redundancies without consultation procedures
A termination based on one of these reasons is wrongful, but not void. In other words, the termination must be contested by the employee, otherwise the termination is deemed to be valid.
What happens if a court deems a termination to be wrongful?
The employment relationship will still be dissolved; however, the employee can claim compensation for up to six months’ monthly salary.
What should I do in the case of a regular termination?
The termination does not have to be communicated in a specific form, i.e. it can be issued orally (over the phone, text message, or WhatsApp). However, for the purpose of proof, a written termination is recommended. It is only deemed to be effective upon being received by the contractual partner. For example, after receipt of a registered termination letter.
Note: If the registered termination letter is not picked up from the post office by the recipient, then the day after the collection notice was issued is considered the effective date. If you can’t expect the letter to be received and, for example, the employee is on vacation, the termination is deemed to be issued from the first day on which the employee can be aware of it.
How should I word the termination?
We have put together a sample document for regular termination that is available for you to download.