Swiss labour law strictly regulates the termination of the employment contract. Except in serious cases allowing for immediate dismissal, an employee can only be fired after giving at least one month’s notice in the first year of employment, two months in the second and three months in the third. However, in the case of a trial period, which can last up to a maximum of 3 months, the notice period is shortened to 7 days.
The trial period serves as a safeguard for the employer and the employee to get to know each other better before committing themselves to a longer employment contract. Indeed, it allows the employer to assess the knowledge and skills of his new employee. Therefore, when one employment contract is succeeded by another, the probationary period is generally not applicable because there is no longer any reason for it, as the employer and employee already know each other quite well.
However, there are exceptions, in particular when the new employment contract provides for significantly different requirements or tasks compared to the old contract and the employer cannot yet form a clear opinion about the employee’s ability to take on these new responsibilities. In these circumstances, the trial period is justified and can be applied to this new employment contract.
It should be made clear that the periods of leave are counted not on the duration of each individual contract, but on the duration of service, in the sense that the duration of the probationary contract is added to the contract of indefinite duration that replaces it for the purpose of calculating the notice periods for dismissal.
Failure to comply with the conditions for dismissal often leads to employees paying additional charges and compensation, which is why we advise careful analysis of each situation before making a decision.