Employment law in Switzerland


Swisscom is one of the largest employers in Switzerland, with 18,272 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. Prior to their merger, ­Swisscom IT Services Ltd and ­Swisscom (Switzerland) Ltd had their own collective employment agreements (CEA) commensurate with the respective market environments. The terms and conditions in these agreements had to be adjusted accordingly, and the new CEA negotiated between ­Swisscom and the social partners enters into force on 1 April 2015. The CEA of cablex AG entered into force on 1 January 2013. At the end of December 2014, 14,596 FTEs or 84.1% 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 govern the employment law provisions applicable to ­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 constitute 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)

The harmonised CEA which enters into force on 1 April 2015 retains the very good employment conditions under the old CEAs and standardises the regulations governing working hours and annual leave as well as the pay system. The working week for employees covered by the CEA is 40 hours. Among the most progressive fringe benefits defined by the CEA are five weeks’ annual leave, or 27 days from age 45 (applicable from 1 January 2015) and six weeks’ annual leave from age 60, 17 weeks’ maternity leave and ten days’ paternity leave. 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. The CEA places special emphasis on staff development while also improving the rights of part-time employees.

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) and variable working-hour models such as annual working hours, a long-term working-time account and part-time working from the age of 58. The “Holiday Purchasing” model also allows employees to purchase additional leave. 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 is a “home office friendly” employer.

Combining work with the care of relatives at home presents a major challenge to those affected. ­Swisscom provides special support for employees who care for a relative or closely-related individual in addition to their work duties. As part of a “Work & Care” pilot project, two new flexible working-hour models have been added to the existing models to promote the work-life balance.

Social plan

Swisscom’s social plan sets out the benefits provided to employees covered by the CEA who are affected by redundancy, and offers resources aimed at improving 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 69% of those affected finding a new job in 2014 prior to the end of the social plan programme. Worklink is also committed to promoting and enhancing the employability of ­Swisscom employees by reviewing employees’ current status and providing career advice and coaching.

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.

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 by 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. Details on remuneration paid to members of the Group Executive Board are provided in the Remuneration 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 regions. 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 defined by the relevant CEA.

Pay round

In January 2014 ­Swisscom and its social partners signed a two-year pay round agreement for 2014 and 2015. In the year under review ­Swisscom increased its total salary payout in Switzerland by 1.2%. This increase was used to make adjustments in salaries based on individual performance and the ratio of the salary to the benchmark. For 2015 ­Swisscom has earmarked 1.8% of the total salary payout for salary adjustments.

Equal pay

Swisscom takes great care to ensure equal pay for men and women. The company’s salary system is structured in such a way as to award equal pay for equivalent duties, responsibilities and performance. To this end, individual functions are assigned to functional levels according to their requirements and a salary band is defined for each function level, stipulating the remuneration range for equivalent duties and responsibility. Pay is determined within this range based on the individual employee’s performance. As part of its salary review, ­Swisscom grants employees who have performed better and are lower within the respective salary band an above-average pay rise. In this way, any wage disparities are evened out on an ongoing basis. When conducting the salary review, ­Swisscom also checks whether there are any pay inequalities between men and women within individual organisational units and corrects them in a targeted manner.

Swisscom also uses the federal government’s equal pay tool (Logib) to conduct periodic reviews of its salary structures to ascertain whether disparities exist between men’s and women’s pay. Previous reviews have revealed only minor pay discrepancies, well under the tolerance threshold of 5%.

In 2011, ­Swisscom joined the Equal Pay Dialogue, an initiative set up by the employer and employee umbrella organisations in association with the federal government to review the status of equal pay and which ran until February 2014. The positive outcome of the Equal Pay Dialogue confirms that ­Swisscom salaries conform to the principle of equal pay.