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Switzerland  Switzerland

Key Facts

Population8,112,200
Collective Bargaining Coverage 51%
Proportion of Employees in Unions 21%
Principal Level of Collective Bargaining

Industry

Workplace Representation

works council

Board-level Representation

no

Company Board Structure

monistic

Trade Unions

In Switzerland today there are two trade union federations, which emerged from the political-religious Richtungsgewerkschaften (unions with particular ideological or party political links). The largest is the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB), with socialist traditions, which has 16 associations and 366,811 members. The second federation is Travail Suisse, which emerged from the Christian trade union movement, with 12 associations and 165,542 members (data as of 2012).

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Collective Bargaining

The dominant level of negotiations is the sector or branch. Besides the major branch agreements there are also numerous collective agreements with individual firms. Collective agreements can be declared generally binding by the federal government (or, in the case of regional agreements, by cantonal governments). The significance of generally binding agreements has increased considerably in recent years. This is a major reason for the higher proportion of workers who are covered by collective agreements.1

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Workplace Representation

The right to participation in the enterprise has existed only since the introduction of the Workers’ Participation Act (Mitwirkungsgesetz) in 1993. This, to some extent, represents an adaptation to European law. Employees in principle have a right to information and consultation. In enterprises with at least 50 employees there is also a right to employee representation. This is independent of the trade union. As a rule, however, at least some of the employee representatives are members of a trade union and/or advised by trade unions.

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Board-level Representation

There is no participation of employees at board level.

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European-level Representation

 

Because Switzerland is not a member of either the EU or the EEA there is no obligation to adopt directives on employees’ representation. There are therefore no legal provisions on the implementation of Directive 2009/38/EC on European works councils or Directive 2001/86/EC on SE works councils.

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Health and Safety Representation

Employees and their representatives in the establishment have participation rights with regard to all matters of occupational health and safety. The employer must provide comprehensive information on these matters and consult the employees before taking a decision.

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Financial Participation

According to research conducted in 2001, there are share ownership schemes in just under 10 per cent of companies. There are more such schemes in companies with over 500 employees than in small and medium-sized ones.

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