Vacation and public holiday rules

Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, an employee is entitled to 4 weeks of paid leave and at least 5 weeks in the case of juvenile employees aged less than 20 years old. At least two weeks of vacation shall be granted consecutively in the course of the respective years of service.

For an incomplete year of service, vacation is usually granted pro rata temporis, i.e. in proportion to the duration of the employment relationship during the year.

The employer is authorised to determine the period of vacation, taking into consideration the employee’s wishes, to the extent that they are compatible with the interests of the company.

As the purpose of the law is to grant every employee with sufficient time off, during the completion of the working relationship parties cannot take pay or other benefits instead of vacation. In contrast, this is possible when the contract has been terminated.

The employer may reduce the employee’s vacation entitlement by one-twelfth for each full month that the employee is prevented from working if the employee’s absence is of his/her own fault. However, if the employee’s absence is not of his/her own fault (illness, accident, etc.), the employee’s vacation entitlement may only be reduced if such absence exceeds two full months.

The number and dates of public holidays vary depending on each Swiss canton. Besides the National Day, all cantons have at least 8 public holidays.

In Geneva, there are 9 days each year of public holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Whit Day, Swiss National Day (1st August), Geneva Prayday (first Thursday of September), Christmas and Restoration of the Republic Geneva (31st December).

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This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.