Military service/Civilian service

Generally speaking, Swiss male citizens who are liable for military service (or Swiss female citizens for voluntary service) attend the recruit school during their eighteenth or nineteenth year. If the VET programme has not been completed at that time, it is advisable to inform the district commander of the canton in which the apprentice lives to enquire as to the possibilities of postponing entrance to the recruit school. In exceptional cases, the recruit school can generally be postponed if the request is well-founded. Exceptions are also accepted for reasons relating to vocational education and training (VET) up until the age of 24. The setbacks that might result from the postponement (accumulation of military service obligations and inconvenient service times) must be considered within the scope of lifelong learning prospects. The completion of the VET programme should, in all case, take priority over military service.

If learners are required to complete military training during the VET programme (basic instruction and refresher courses), they are entitled to allowances for loss of earnings. All recruits generally receive an allocation of 62 Swiss francs per day irrespective of whether they were engaged in gainful employment or training before they began or whether a working relationship continues during attendance of the recruit school. An exception is made for recruits who have children. They receive the same allowances as persons (with or without gainful employment) who have completed their basic training.

If the VET programme has been interrupted for a relatively long period of time due to military service, its duration can only be extended if the goal of the apprenticeship cannot be reached during the remaining time available. An extension of the apprenticeship contract is only possible if the contracting parties agree thereto and if this extension is approved by the cantonal VET office. If the final examination is scheduled to take place while the learner is attending the recruit school, the military authority grants the requisite absence.

Civilian service

Service in the army can be associated with insurmountable moral conflicts. In these cases, Article 59 of the Federal Constitution provides for an alternative: civilian service.

The duration of civilian service is 1.5 times longer than normal military service. Just as in military service, there is also a duty to serve in civilian service. In the case of an apprenticeship that has not yet been completed, civilian service must therefore be coordinated with training. Like members of the armed forces, those doing civilian service are also entitled to loss of earnings compensation.