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What is the minimum annual holiday for your employee?

Minimum paid leave entitlement applies to all employees, and the duration depends on age, seniority or even branch of activity.
Paid vacations and leave
21.05.2024

General framework for holidays in Switzerland 

Any Swiss or foreign company employing staff in Switzerland must give them holiday entitlement, taking into account all of the following points: 

  1. Holidays must be paid for, which can mean a sudden additional cost for untaken holidays over several years. 
  2. In addition to equivalent pay, compensation may be payable in the event of non-compliance. 
  3. Holiday entitlement is monitored by the competent authorities. 
  4. Holidays must be taken in full within a year and up to the last day of work in the event of dismissal, even if the employee refuses to take them in full. 
  5. Holiday pay is also subject to contributions and tax, where applicable. 

Human resources, both internal and external to the company, play a crucial role in drawing up employment contracts and handling employee complaints. 

Among others, private individuals who employ domestic staff (cleaning, nannies, gardeners) are also affected by this issue, as they must grant a minimum amount of paid leave even for part-time, irregular or hourly workers. 

Principal rules on vacations 

The following is a list of the main legal rules on minimum paid holidays for employees in Switzerland. Here are the main points to bear in mind: 

  • All employees are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks’ paid holiday per year. This increases to 5 weeks for employees under the age of 20. 
  • Most collective labour agreements provide for 5 weeks’ holiday for staff who have reached the age of 50 or who have worked for the same employer for 20 years. 
  • In the case of part-time work, holiday entitlement is reduced proportionately. For example, a 100% employee working 5 days a week is entitled to 20 working days’ holiday (plus Saturdays and Sundays), while an 80% employee working 4 days a week is entitled to 16 working days’ holiday per year. 
  • Holidays may not be compensated in cash, subject to the holidays remaining on the days of dismissal or resignation. In particular, the employer may refuse to allow the employee to take all of his holiday during the termination leave for just reasons and legitimate business needs. 
  • An illness or accident that does not allow you to rest during your holiday does not count as holiday taken. 
  • National or cantonal public holidays do not count as holidays. 
  • Holidays are agreed between the employer and the employee, but the employee is entitled to at least 2 consecutive weeks’ holiday. In addition, the employer will take into account the employee’s particular needs and will generally grant holidays during school holidays if the employee has children, or the right for spouses working in the same company to take holidays at the same time. On the other hand, employees may be obliged to take holidays during periods when the company is closed. 
  • During holidays, the full salary must be paid. In addition, salary supplements must be paid, including the variable salary to be paid proportionally. This is based on the average salary paid over the last 12 months. 

Recommendations 

In this final section, we’ll give you some recommendations on how best to manage minimum paid holidays for employees in Switzerland. Here are our tips: 

  • Take into account the employee’s age and family situation. 
  • Also consult the UNIA website to find out if there is a CLA providing for higher holidays than the law: https://www.service-cct.ch/ 
  • Carefully record hours worked, sick leave, absences, holidays, public holidays and any other payroll information. 
  • Use our staff regulations template to set out the general holiday plan, the deadline for requesting holidays, their duration and other essential points to protect you.  
Create your staff regulations in a couple of clicks
  • Or negotiate holiday conditions with full rights and restrictions for each employee separately, taking into account their personal situation and workstation.
Create your standard employment agreement in a couple of clicks