Illness and injury

The following principles must be complied with if a learner is ill or injured:

  • If learners are unable to do work, they must notify the host company directly or have the host company informed immediately. Normally, a medical certificate must be presented on the third day. In certain circumstances, the certificate may be requested from the first day if the loss of income insurance requires this or if educational reasons justify such a request.
  • If learners are not responsible for their illness (reckless behaviour), the employer must (according to the Swiss Code of Obligations) pay them their full salary including a certain compensation for possible services in kind for a limited period of time.

In addition, the courts have laid down various scales concerning the obligation to pay salaries in the event of illness:

Basel scale
for three weeks during the first year;
for two months during the second and third years;
for three months during the fourth year.

Bern scale
for three weeks during the first year;
for one month during the second year;
for two months during the third and fourth years.

Zurich scale for three weeks during the first year;
for eight weeks during the second year;
for nine weeks during the third year;
for ten weeks during the fourth year.

A written agreement, standard employment contract or collective employment agreement may establish different rules other than those stipulated by law if the employer insures the learner for a daily allowance in the event of illness. The difference may concern both the duration of the obligation to pay the salary or the amount of the allowance. However, it must at least be equivalent to the apprentice’s legal protection provided for by Art. 324a CO. This equivalence depends on the duration and amount of the insurance benefits and also on the payment of premiums by the employer.

The following solution is widely used: The employer pays 80% of the salary during a 30-day waiting period. The insurance then also covers 80% of the salary for 730 days over a period of 900 days. The employer pays for half of the insurance premiums and the other half is paid by the apprentice or worker. Courts accept the notion of equivalence if the employer pays at least 50% of the premiums.

In the event of illness or injury:

  • Learners cannot be compelled to make up for their absences due to illness or injury. Regarding a possible extension of the apprenticeship contract, please refer to the section entitled “extension of the apprenticeship contract”.
  • If learners cannot attend vocational instruction due to illness or injury, they must inform the VET school in accordance with the regulatory provisions.
  • If learners cannot be present for the final examination due to illness or injury, they shall be given the possibility of taking it at a later date. The arrangements governing this examination are laid down by the authorities responsible for examinations.

Related Glossary Entries