Sick Leave in Switzerland: All You Need To Know

Woman Lying on Bed While Blowing Her Nose

Switzerland has one of the best sick leave policies in the world, making it one of the best places to work and live. If you’re considering moving to this beautiful European country, it’s in your best interest to learn everything you can about the country’s sick leave policies.

Every employee in Switzerland is entitled to paid sick leave. How many paid sick days you get depends on how long you’ve been employed in a company.

Employees get 3 weeks of sick leave in the first year of employment. If they are unwell for longer, the insurance starts paying out sick benefits for up to 720 days.

This article highlights everything you need to know about sick leave in Switzerland. If you want to know your benefits, sick leave days, or how to receive sick leave in Switzerland, you’ve come to the right site.

Does Switzerland have paid sick leave?

Every employee in Switzerland is entitled to sick leave as long as they can prove they need it. Better yet, most Swiss employees get paid their full salary while on sick leave (Lohnfortzahlung).

Nevertheless, the length of sick leave you receive varies based on your duration of employment.

For instance, first-year workers average three weeks of sick leave. Employees receive eight, nine, ten, and eleven weeks of leave in their second, third, fourth, and fifth years.

The table below illustrates the entitlement of sick days for employees with varying years of experience.

Length of the employment Basel scale BS, BLBern scale BE, AG, OW, SG, West CHZurich Scale ZH, GR
1st year3 weeks3 weeks3 weeks
2nd year2 months1 month8 weeks
3rd year2 months2 months9 weeks
4th year3 months2 months10 weeks
5th year3 months3 months11 weeks
6th year3 months3 months12 weeks
7th year3 months3 months13 weeks
8th year3 months3 months14 weeks
9th year3 months3 months15 weeks
10th year3 months4 months16 weeks
11th year4 months4 months17 weeks
Source: – Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs

If an employee is unwell for a long time, the daily sickness benefits insurance pays them. The company will compensate you for at least 14 days during the insurance waiting period.

The waiting period can be 14, 30, 90, or 180 days. Assuming you’ve worked at the company for over 3 months, Swiss employers must continue paying your salary.

Moreover, the period an employee receives wages and how much they receive while on sick leave depends on the distinct circumstances below:

Existence of daily sickness allowance insurance

Pile of paper bills near set of multicolored pills

While the law doesn’t require that an employer provide daily sickness allowance insurance, it’s a common feature in most employment contracts in Switzerland.

Many Swiss employers provide “collective” daily sickness insurance for their employees. This guarantees you 80% of your salary for a maximum of 720 days.

Worker contributions to daily sickness insurance are common. However, the corporation can pay them or share them with the employee. They automatically deduct deductions from your pay.

Besides, it benefits both parties, allowing the employee to receive compensation during the sick leave and saving the employer from paying a sick employee’s salary out of pocket.

When the employment contract includes daily sickness benefits insurance, it covers an employee for up to 720 days. In some instances, there’s also the possibility of getting 100% of their salary instead of 80%.

Absence of daily sickness allowance insurance

Where an employee’s contract doesn’t include daily sickness benefits insurance, the obligation for sick leave compensation lies with the employer.

According to Switzerland’s labor laws, the employer MUST pay the employee their full salary (100%) for a certain period annually if they fall ill.

However, only employees who have been employed full-time for at least three full months are eligible. The law stipulates that the employer must pay 100% of the employee’s salary from day one of their sick leave without fail.

The employment contract, GAV (collective labor agreement), or NAV influence sick leave duration and entitled salary.

The calculation of sick days’ salary is per year of service. Therefore, if you become ill multiple times a year, we tally your sick days to check if you are within the annual limit.

A sick employee receives their wage and any additional perks they would receive if healthy.

Swiss labor laws further safeguard employees by requiring that any legislative stipulations precede employment contracts on continuous wage payment, so an employer can’t deny you a sick leave salary because you signed off on it.

How much is sick pay in Switzerland?

The employer and “daily sickness benefits insurance” (Krankentagegeldversicherung) determine whether the allowance is up to 100% of your pay.

How does sick leave work in Switzerland?

Woman in Gray Tank Top Lying on Bed

Taking sick days in Switzerland is as simple as proofing that you’re unfit to work. Still, you must inform your supervisor immediately after realizing you won’t be able to clock in.

This means that you need to visit a doctor and get a sick sheet stipulating that after consultation, observation, or diagnosis, the doctor has deemed you unfit for regular duty.

So, as an employee, the burden of proof lies with you. Typically, labor laws require you to submit a medical certificate upon an employer’s request. However, most employers expect to receive it within 3 to 4 days of incapacity to work.

It relies on your job contract provisions. If not indicated, consult corporate policies. Most workplaces require a doctor’s certificate by the third or fourth day of illness. Employers may request it on the first day.

Doctor’s notice or medical certificate in Switzerland

A notice from your doctor is mandatory in Switzerland. Without it, your sick leave will be unofficial, which can lead to all sorts of trouble up to the termination of the employment contract.

Moreover, if you’re unfit to work for a prolonged period, you must submit new medical certificates regularly to keep your employer abreast of what’s happening.

The medical certificate reflects your illness’s severity and incapacitating status. The certificate should state the maximum safe work hours for partially unfit employees, even if they don’t have a diagnosis.

On the other hand, a daily sickness benefits insurance company requires a slightly different medical certificate. Specifically, the standard doctor’s certificate simply won’t cut it for cases of long-term incapacity.

Instead, daily sickness benefits insurers often require a proper medical examination by a qualified medical examiner.

Nevertheless, the examination aims to determine the extent of your sickness and advise the insurer on information about an employee’s ability to work. Therefore, even the insurer, by law, is not allowed to ask for the diagnosis.

What are you allowed to do during sick leave in Switzerland?

Person Holding Thermometer

If you are on sick leave, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must stay in bed constantly. Some activities are considered acceptable during the sick days, and some aren’t that much.

For example, getting caught while running in a park during your sick leave will make your employer doubt you, whereas walking is fine.

Moreover, you can do your daily chores such as shopping at the supermarket, etc. Yet, going out for drinks isn’t recommended.

How long will you get paid during the sick leave in Switzerland?

The amount of paid sick days depends on the length of your employment and, thus, how long you have been working in the company. The paid sick leave period is usually limited to 720 days.

The table above shows the exact number of sick days paid by your employer before insurance takes effect. They are divided into Basel, Bern, and Zurich scales.

The insurance has a waiting period of at least 14 days, during which you fully or particularly will be compensated by the employer. The waiting period, however, can be 14, 30, 90, or even 180 days.

For sick days over that period, your insurance (Krankentagegeldversicherung) will cover 80% to 100% of your wage for up to 720 days (2 years).

Child sick leave in Switzerland

A Sick Boy in Blue Long Sleeves Sitting on the Couch

Perhaps you’re also wondering what happens when a loved one is sick and you must care for them. Do you request sick leave to care for your child, spouse, or partner if impaired?

Employees in Switzerland are also entitled to sick leave to care for a sick loved one. Under the country’s labor laws, employees qualify for paid sick leave to care for the following family members:

  • Child, spouse, or registered partner
  • Parents
  • Siblings and people with whom an employee has lived for a minimum of 5 years without interruption

However, unlike personal sick leave, the number of days you can take to care for dependents is limited as follows:

  • The time necessary to provide care is up to a maximum of 3 days per event
  • A maximum of 10 days per year of service

Nonetheless, employees are given more leeway when they need leave to care for a child with a severe accident or illness-borne health impairment.

Starting on the first day, the employee draws their first sick leave daily allowance, a parent can get up to 14 weeks within 18 months.

Even so, in cases where both parents are employed, the law only allows each parent to take up to seven weeks of sick leave for childcare.

After the session, you should know how to provide third-party care if the child still needs close supervision.

Burnout sick leave in Switzerland

Man holding head in hands

Can Swiss citizens take burnout sick leave? Sometimes, it’s doable with a doctor’s written recommendation. It must state burnout-related health issues. Qualified workers can take compensated sick leave.

Burnout sick leave is controversial in Switzerland. Burnout is increasing nationwide for several reasons. This lowers productivity and mental wellness.

In fact, statistics from one of the country’s biggest insurer shows that the number of Swiss employees battling stress-related mental health problems and their contributing factors are increasing. 6 out of 10 employees take sick leave due to burnout or depression.

In mid-2019, the Swiss parliament declined to recognise burnout as an occupational illness. As a result, the debate on whether burned-out employees in the country need sick leave still rages on.

Although burnout doesn’t qualify for sick leave in Switzerland, it can trigger or worsen other occupational illnesses for which sick leave may be granted.

Medical stethoscope and mask composed with red foiled chocolate hearts

For instance, research shows that burnout can exacerbate specific psychiatric diseases and physical dysfunctions. Specifically, burnout is a risk factor for cardiovascular ailments and perhaps a more common mental disorder, depression.

Employees suffering from burnout can visit a medical practitioner for evaluation. If the doctor determines their state will impair their ability to work, they can recommend time off work.

With a doctor’s written approval, employees may be eligible for sick leave as they recuperate from burnout. If an exhausted employee cannot get sick leave from a doctor, they can utilize vacation days to relax.

Employers set vacation days. On request, the employer must consider an employee’s preferences or arrangements. After one year, all Swiss workers receive four weeks of paid vacation.

How to call in sick in Switzerland

It’s easy to call in sick in Switzerland, but you must always have a valid reason.

The first step of calling in sick is informing your employer of your inability to work. That can be your immediate supervisor or manager, but it’s also prudent to tell your HR department.

Second, see a doctor to assess your situation. If they think you need time to leave, they’ll write you a medical certificate with a recovery estimate.

The medical certificate is the only way your employer and insurer can verify your sick leave claim. Most companies expect to get it within four working days of your first sick leave, so consult a doctor immediately.

Finally, inform your employer of your health, especially if you need more sick days than expected.

You must give your employer a new medical certificate from your doctor to extend your sick leave.

Liked it? Take a second to support Nicholas on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Similar Posts