What are the national labor laws

Labor law and regulations

The aim of the labor law is to protect employees from health impairments associated with the workplace. On the one hand it contains regulations on general health protection, on the other hand regulations on working and rest times.

Scope of the labor law

The labor law consists of two parts:

  • Health protection (Art. 6, 35 and 36a ArG as well as ArGV 3, among others)
  • Working and rest hours

Although the labor law is in principle applicable to all companies and all employees in Switzerland, there are certain exceptions.

Neither the regulations on health protection nor the regulations on working hours and rest periods are applicable to the following companies and employees:
  • Family businesses
  • Companies that are subject to federal legislation on work in public transport companies (the provisions on health protection apply via AZGV)
  • Companies that are subject to federal legislation on shipping under the Swiss flag
  • People of the clergy and other people who are in the service of churches, as well as members of religious and mother houses or other religious communities
  • Crews from Swiss airline companies
  • the staff of public administrations of foreign countries or international organizations residing in Switzerland
  • Commercial travelers within the meaning of federal legislation
  • Employees who are subject to the agreement of May 21, 1954 on working conditions for boaters on the Rhine
Only the regulations on health protection apply to the following companies and employees:
  • Administrations of the Confederation, the cantons and the communes, public-law institutions without legal personality and corporations under public law, provided that the majority of the employees in them are in a public-law employment relationship, with the exception of the federal, cantonal and of the municipalities to which the ArG is fully applicable
  • Employees who have a higher managerial position
  • Employees who carry out a self-employed artistic activity
  • Employees who carry out a scientific activity
  • Teachers in private schools and teachers, educators, carers and supervisors in institutions
The following companies only have to apply the regulations on the minimum age:
  • Farms of primary agricultural production, including secondary farms, in which mainly the products of the main farm are processed or used, as well as at local milk collection points and the associated milk processing companies
  • Companies with predominantly horticultural production, further provisions insofar as this is necessary to protect the apprentices
  • Fishing operations
  • private households

If there are doubts about the applicability of the law to a company or employee, the cantonal enforcement authority of the labor law must decide.

Labor law

The basis of employee protection is the Labor Act (ArG), which consists of two main parts: one contains the regulations on working and rest times, the other part those on health protection.

Five ordinances complete this law:

Ordinances to the labor law

The Ordinance 1 to the Labor Act (ArGV 1) contains definitions and clarifications

The Ordinance 2 to the Labor Act (ArGV 2) provides special provisions for individual groups of companies or employees

The Ordinance 3 to the Labor Act (ArGV 3) regulates the rights and obligations of employers and employees in relation to health protection

The Ordinance 4 to the Labor Act (ArGV 4) regulates the regulations applicable to industrial operations as well as the planning approval process

The Ordinance 5 to the Labor Act (Youth Labor Protection Ordinance, ArGV 5) aims to protect the health and safety of young people at work up to the age of 18.

Ordinances of the Federal Department of Economics, Education and Research EAER

Further legal bases