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Labour disputes: who to contact

Labour relations can give rise to various disputes, for example regarding pay and working hours or because of discrimination or an appeal against dismissal. There are a variety of reasons for this. The way the dispute is resolved will depend on the type of labour relation (governed by public law or private law), and on the number of persons concerned (collective or individual labour disputes).

Individual labour disputes

he cantons often create special courts for labour disputes and provide for compulsory preliminary conciliation proceedings. For disputes not exceeding claims of CHF 30,000, the cantons have put in place simplified and shortened procedures. In these cases the parties bear only the legal fees, no court fees. For claims exceeding CHF 30,000, however, the parties must also pay the court fees.
In the event of a dispute, federal employees need to contact the responsible administrative office.

Collective labour disputes

A labour dispute involving several employees is called a collective labour dispute. The cantonal conciliation boards are responsible for handling these disputes. If the dispute extends beyond a canton’s border, the Federal Board for Conciliation in Collective Labour Disputes is called upon.

Cantonal conciliation boards for employment law disputes

Federal Board for Conciliation in Collective Intercantonal Labour Disputes

Discrimination in the workplace: unequal treatment, sexual harassment

Victims of discrimination in the workplace may request the

  • prohibition of potential discrimination,
  • elimination of existing discrimination,
  • establishment of discrimination,
  • awarding of damages.

The request to eliminate discrimination must be directed to the employers and can be enforced through legal channels.

Employees who are subject to sexual discrimination may contact the conciliation board envisaged in the Gender Equality Act. In some cantons, it is mandatory to contact the conciliation board before taking legal action and some particular procedures are simplified. In addition, depending on the circumstances, the victim also has the right to bring criminal charges against the offender (e.g. on the grounds of coercion, assault, sexual harassment, etc.).

Conciliation board for discrimination between men and women

Bullying in the workplace

If you suspect your colleagues (individuals or a group of people) or your superior of bullying you, start by obtaining evidence relating to exclusion and harassment, which may be expressed in a number of ways, including shouting, verbal abuse, constant criticism, harassing phone calls, threats, ignoring the victim, useless assignments, etc. Legal action can only be taken against an offender when there is evidence available.

If possible, talk to your employer about your suspicions. If your employer is unable to meet you or if the result of the meeting is unsatisfactory, you need to notify your employer of the situation in writing and ask him/her to help you. Employers are required by law to help any employee experiencing bullying.

If your employer does not take any specific steps to put an end to the bullying, you should resort to the Cantonal Labour Inspectorate.

Sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace

Cantonal Labour Inspectorate