Occupational health and safety

Health protection

The employer is the guarantor of health and safety at work. He has the duty to protect the personality, physical and mental health of his employees. The employer must take all reasonable measures to avoid any damage to health in the workplace.


Telecommuting is popular with employees and some companies. It saves employees tedious commuting and increases employee productivity. Telecommuting is particularly appropriate during a pandemic such as Covid-19 to slow the spread of the disease.

When implemented hastily, however, telecommuting can have an impact on employee health, especially when the office and equipment at the employee's home are not ergonomic. The employer must respond.


When a pandemic strikes Switzerland, employers must take steps to protect their employees. Employees who are particularly vulnerable are given special protection.

However, the fight against a pandemic does not justify all actions by the employer, especially when these actions are likely to affect the employee's personality. Demanding to know where the employee is going on vacation or taking the temperature of the employees before entering the premises are delicate mechanisms and not always lawful.

The same applies to an employer who wishes to oblige his employees to be vaccinated, even if the purpose is to protect the health of the employees and reduce work incapacity and quarantine within the company.

Apprentices and young workers

Young workers are still developing and are sometimes more fragile than other employees. The employer has an increased duty to protect their health and personality. He must ensure that they do not have to do dangerous work and that they are not exposed to bad influences within the company.

Job Interviews

Before hiring a new employee, employers sometimes want to make sure that the applicant is healthy. Such questions may infringe on the applicant's privacy.

Questions about the candidate's health are only lawful if they are directly related to the job. The lawfulness of the question will determine what sanctions the employer can take if the employee has lied to a health question during the interview.

Workplace accidents

Employers must instruct their employees on how to prevent workplace accidents and ensure that they follow these instructions, particularly when they have access to dangerous machinery. Failure to do so may result in the employer being held liable in the event of an accident.

Employers have a duty to ensure that their employees are fit to work. He must react when the employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, when he is on Ramadan or when he comes to work when he is ill. Failure to do so may result in liability in the event of an accident.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are periods during which the health of the employee and her child are more vulnerable. The employee benefits from special health protection.

The employer may not employ a pregnant or nursing woman in tasks that are likely to endanger her health or that of her baby. Activities that are particularly physically demanding or that expose the employee to toxic substances are prohibited.

The employee also benefits from adjustments in her work schedule and more breaks. She is prohibited from working night shifts for a certain period of time.

An employer who cannot employ a pregnant or nursing woman in a way that does not compromise her health will have to pay her 80% of her salary for a certain period.

Sexual and psychological harassment and conflicts at work

Situations of sexual harassment, mobbing and conflicts at work have harmful consequences on the psychological health of the employees who are victims. The employer is obliged to prevent these behaviors and to put an end to them. The employer must adopt an anti-harassment and anti-conflict policy that sets out the procedure to be followed in the event of a problem and the sanctions.


To prevent theft or misuse of the internet in the workplace or to monitor employee productivity, employers are tempted to implement surveillance in the workplace. However, these surveillance systems are likely to affect the psychological health of employees who often feel pressured or spied on. The employer must follow strict procedures and conditions before installing such a surveillance system. The employer must first draw up surveillance regulations that comply with the procedure laid down by the Federal Data Protection Commissioner.

Company parties

Despite the often relaxed atmosphere, a company party remains a professional event. The employer must take appropriate measures to prevent the risk of accidents at the workplace or when employees go home, especially when alcohol is involved.

Professional travelling

The employer's duty does not end when the employee is away on business. In particular, the employer must ensure that the country to which the employee is sent does not present health risks.

Time recording

Time recording is critical to ensure that employees are not working overtime and that they are getting the legal rest periods and breaks. Employers need to be more vigilant when employees are engaged in a sideline activity, as legal time limits can quickly be exceeded.

Even when a simplified registration or a waiver of the registration of working time is applicable, the employer is still obliged to ensure that his employees do not suffer from burnout due to overwork.


In order for the employee to be able to rest, it is necessary that he/she has vacations during which he/she does not have to work. Replacing vacation days with cash benefits is only possible in very special circumstances.

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon