Unpaid leave

There is no legal right to unpaid leave (e.g. for continuing education and training). If the contracting parties agree to unpaid leave, the employment contract is not terminated as such. However, the employee’s obligations (i.e. to perform the work required) and the employer’s obligations (i.e. to pay the salary) are suspended during the period of leave. At the end of the leave, the working relationships continue to their full extent.

It is essential to review the worker’s insurance coverage during the unpaid leave (suspension of contributions for OSI / DI / UI / LEA / OI / AI, cancellation of the accident insurance coverage, etc.).

In theory there is nothing to prevent parties to the apprenticeship contract from agreeing to unpaid leave (e.g. for a linguistic trip, sports event, concert tour, etc.). The VET trainer and the learner must ensure that this interruption in training does not compromise its success. If necessary, an exemption from vocational instruction may be obtained. For lengthy periods of leave, the apprenticeship contract may be extended provided the contracting parties and the competent cantonal authority approve the said extension. However, extension of the duration of the VET programme due to unpaid leave is only justified in exceptional cases.

The term “youth leave” refers to leave granted to learners and young workers to enable them to devote time to work in favour of young persons (e.g. as a camp leader). In the past, certain employers have granted leave for such activities on their own initiative. Since 1991, provisions concerning extracurricular activities are stipulated in the CO (Art. 329e). Youth leave of a maximum of one week per year spent working for the company must be granted to workers until they reach the age of 30, if such leave is to be devoted to out-of-school youth activities. This unpaid work must involve managerial, coordinating or advising work in a cultural or social organisation. It must also be related to the VET programme. The right to such leave is in addition to the right to holiday leave. The employer may demand that the worker provide proof of their work and duties within the scope of youth work.

The time and duration of the youth leave must be agreed by mutual consent. If the parties are unable to reach agreement, the leave is granted if the request was submitted two months before the beginning of the leave. Holiday leave that has not been taken before the end of the calendar year is forfeited. The contracting parties must reach agreement on the salary during the leave. For certain activities within the scope of “Youth + Sport” (monitor courses), loss of earnings allowances are also granted.