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What are my unemployment rights and what should I watch out for?

4 min and 30 sec reading time
What are my unemployment rights and what should I watch out for?

In Switzerland, unemployment is governed by specific laws and regulations designed to protect workers and provide them with a temporary financial safety net.

On average, each citizen between 25 and 65 years old has CHF 12’838 in vested benefits!

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Understanding your unemployment rights

When a person loses their job in Switzerland, they may be entitled to unemployment benefits, provided they meet certain conditions. These benefits are paid by the cantonal unemployment funds and are intended to provide temporary replacement income while searching for a new job.

Unemployment rights in Switzerland include:

  • The right to unemployment benefits: These benefits are calculated based on the last salary received and the duration of contributions paid. They are paid monthly for a specified period.
  • The right to professional reintegration measures: The unemployed can benefit from training programs, career counseling, and job search assistance to facilitate their return to the labor market.
  • The right to protection against unfair dismissal: Swiss law protects workers against unjustified or discriminatory dismissals.
  • The right to equal treatment: All unemployed people must be treated fairly, without discrimination based on age, gender, ethnic origin, or any other characteristic protected by law.

It is important to note that these rights come with obligations, such as being available to take up suitable employment and actively seeking a new job.

Eligibility criteria for unemployment in Switzerland

To receive unemployment benefits in Switzerland, workers must meet certain eligibility criteria. Here are the main criteria to consider:

  • Contribution period: To be entitled to unemployment benefits, you must have paid contributions for a certain period, usually 12 months in the last two years before losing your job.
  • Involuntary loss of employment: Unemployment benefits are generally granted to people who have lost their jobs involuntarily, such as in the case of dismissal or the end of a fixed-term contract.
  • Availability for work: The unemployed must be available to accept suitable employment and prove that they are actively seeking a new job.
  • Age and residence: There are specific rules regarding age and residence in Switzerland to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Reasons for job loss: Certain reasons for job loss, such as gross misconduct or voluntary departure, may result in a reduction or withdrawal of unemployment benefits.

It is important to understand these criteria and provide the necessary documents when registering for unemployment to avoid delays or refusals in processing your application.

Calculating the amount of unemployment benefits

The amount of unemployment benefit in Switzerland is calculated based on the last salary received and the duration of contributions paid. Here are the main elements to consider:

  • Reference salary: The amount of the benefit is based on the last salary received before losing the job. It is generally calculated on the basis of the average salary over the last six months.
  • Replacement rate: The replacement rate is the percentage of the reference salary that will be paid as a benefit. This rate generally varies between 70% and 80%, depending on the family situation of the unemployed person.
  • Ceiling and floor: There is a ceiling and a floor for the amount of unemployment benefits. The ceiling is set at around CHF 12,000 per month, while the floor is around CHF 3,000 per month.

Duration of benefits

The duration of unemployment benefit payments depends on several factors, including:

  • Age of the unemployed person: Older people generally receive benefits for a longer period.
  • Duration of contributions: The longer the contribution period, the longer the benefit payment period will be.
  • Family situation: Unemployed persons with dependents may receive an extension of the benefit payment period.
  • Legal ceiling: There is a legal ceiling for the maximum duration of benefit payments, which varies by canton but is generally between 18 and 24 months.

It is important to understand these factors to have a clear idea of the amount and duration of benefits you may be entitled to in the event of unemployment.

Pitfalls to avoid when unemployed

While the unemployment insurance system in Switzerland is designed to provide a safety net for workers, there are some pitfalls to avoid to not jeopardize your rights or end up in a precarious situation.

  • Not complying with job search obligations: It is essential to demonstrate that you are actively looking for a new job by participating in measures proposed by the employment service and providing evidence of your efforts. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in suspension or withdrawal of benefits.
  • Refusing suitable employment: The unemployed are required to accept a job considered suitable, meaning one that matches their qualifications and professional experience. Refusing such a job without valid reason can also have consequences on benefit payments.
  • Providing inaccurate information: It is crucial to provide accurate and complete information when registering for unemployment and throughout the benefit period. Any false statement or omission can be considered fraud and result in sanctions.
  • Neglecting training or reintegration offers: The unemployed may be offered training or professional reintegration programs. It is important to seize these opportunities to improve skills and increase chances of finding a new job.
  • Ignoring deadlines and procedures: Respecting deadlines and following the procedures established by the employment service is essential to avoid delays or interruptions in benefit payments.

By being vigilant and strictly adhering to the rules in place, you can avoid these pitfalls and fully benefit from the advantages offered by the unemployment insurance system in Switzerland.

Understanding your rights and obligations regarding unemployment in Switzerland is essential to successfully navigate this transition period. By meeting eligibility criteria, avoiding potential pitfalls, and using available resources, you can benefit from a financial safety net and valuable support to facilitate your return to the labor market.

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BVG unemployment
Melvin Plumez

Melvin Plumez

Brevet fédéral de planificateur financier
Économiste d’entreprise HES