You must inform your employer/employee if you intend to terminate the employment relationship.
The work contract generally indicates whether you must do so in writing. If the contract does not contain requirements to this effect, you may also terminate the employment relationship verbally.
You must ensure that your employer or employee actually receives this information. Termination is only valid from the time that the other party has been informed of it.
A registered letter is therefore the most advisable way to terminate employment. You may also hand deliver the letter, but you should then ask for a signed confirmation of receipt, e.g. on a copy of your termination letter.
The contents of the letter
Your letter should be signed and dated, and it must contain at least the following information:
the complete and correct information (name, address) of employee and employer
the details of the employment contract to be terminated (employment contract of X.Y.20XX)
the date on which you intend to terminate the employment relationship (this is usually only possible at the end of each month; you must also take the notice period into account
Note: In Switzerland you are not required to state your motivation when terminating an employment relationship. The other party is entitled to ask, however, in which case you must provide your reasons in writing.
Here you can download a sample letter terminating an employment relationship.
Be aware of deadlines
If you decide to terminate an employment relationship, you must respect the notice period agreed in the employment contract. Unless stated otherwise in your employment contract (or collective employment contract), the following notice periods apply:
during the probation period: seven calendar days
during the first year of employment: one month, from the last day of the month (e.g. if employment is terminated on 13 June and the notice period is one month, your contract will end on 31 July)
from the second to the ninth year of employment: two months, from the last day of the month
from the tenth year of employment onwards: three months, from the last day of the month
A fixed-term contract automatically ends on the agreed date and generally cannot be terminated in advance except in serious cases or if the contract provides for this possibility. Employer and employee can end a fixed-term contract early, however, as long as this is done by mutual agreement and in accordance with the law.
If you haven’t found a new job by the end of the notice period, you must register as unemployed. You can find advice about how to do so on the web page about unemployment.
Illness or accident during the notice period
If you become ill or have an accident after your employer have terminated the employment relationship, your notice period will be stopped depending on the amount of time it takes you to recover. Once you are able to work again, the notice period will resume, ending on the next possible date (e.g. the end of the month).
Holidays during the notice period
You should generally be allowed to use any remaining holiday time during the notice period. Your employer may be permitted to deny your request in exceptional business-related circumstances.
If this happens, you can agree with your employer to have the remaining holiday time paid out.
Protection from termination
Employers cannot fire employees who are unable to work due to illness or accident. Employees receive temporary protection from termination during this time, specifically:
30 days in the 1st year of work
90 days from the 2nd through 5th year
180 days starting in the 6th year
The same protections apply during pregnancy and for 16 weeks after giving birth. You can find further information on the web page about protection of pregnant women and mothers in the workplace.
The employer must always wait until the employee has returned to work before informing them of their dismissal.
It is important to note, however, that employees are permitted to terminate their employment contracts during these periods of protection.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) provides a FAQ list with extensive information on terminating employment relationships, employees’ period of protection from dismissal, and holiday during the notice period. You will also find information on employees’ period of protection during their compulsory military or civil defence service.