Probationary period in Switzerland: duration and notice period

by Etienne Besson on 10 July 2010

in Labor Law Switzerland,Probationary Period

Probationary period in Switzerland: is it mandatory, how long does it last, and what is the notice period?

This article discusses only the most basic situations without taking into account any exceptions or wicked scenarios any good lawyer could come up with.

And by the way, I’m not a lawyer. So please read the legal disclaimer at the end of this article. And to use my own words: consult a professional before making decisions that could have consequences of any kind.

Legal background

The probationary period is defined in the Swiss Code of Obligations art. 335 b.
The CO is available here (html and pdf):
Obligationenrecht | Code des Obligations |Codice delle Obbligazioni

What if the probationary period isn’t mentioned in the employment contract?

In this case the probationary period lasts automatically 1 month with a notice period of 7 days.

Minimum and maximum durations

It’s possible to renounce the probationary period altogether or to chose any duration of up to 3 months, as long as this is agreed in written. This is usually part of the employment contract or the Personnel Policy, which must of course be declared as an integral part of the employment contract.

The only possibility to extend the probationary period beyond 3 months is if the employee was unable to work in case of sickness, accident or fulfillment of a mandatory legal obligation (eg military service). In this case the probationary period can be extended by the same number of days that the employee missed work.

Duration of the notice period

It’s possible to deviate from the 7 days notice period if a written agreement is signed by both parties.

The minimum is zero days, in this case the contract ends as soon as one of the parties communicates their will to end the contract.

From what I understand the law doesn’t define a maximum duration, but it seems reasonable to have a notice period that is shorter than the one after the probationary period.

When does the notice period start

Unless there is no notice period, i.e. the duration is zero days, the notice period starts the day following the communication. This is the big difference to a notice period after the probationary period, which always starts at the beginning of the following month.

Last possibility to resign or terminate the contract during the probationary period

It’s still possible to end the contract on the last day of the probationary period and it doesn’t matter if the notice period ends when the probationary period is already over.

However, the other party must receive the notice during the probationary period. For example, if the probationary period ends on a Sunday, then you should make sure that your manager receives your resignation latest on Friday.

No protection during the probationary period

A company can terminate the employment contract during the probationary period even if the employee is unable to work due to sickness, accident or legal obligations.

Of course there’s many more aspects to the probationary period, but these are the main elements. Everything else is a story for another day.


  • Swiss Code of Obligations (not available in English, see above for links to other languages)
  • Streiff Ullin/von Kaenel Adrian: Arbeitsvertrag (6. Auflage), Zürich 2005 (in German)

The legal disclaimer

Nothing on this website should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law.
(I “borrowed” this from Wikipedia’s Legal Disclaimer page)

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