Our legal experts will be happy to advise you !

We can help you to understand your options, decide on a course of action and complete administrative procedures. Book your first 45-minute consultation completely free of charge.

Unemployment insurance and benefits

Most employees in Switzerland are insured against involuntary unemployment, and the benefits paid by the state amount to 80% of your most recent salary, but to receive your entitlement, you must pay close attention to the rules, procedures and deadlines. Unlike some countries, the Swiss authorities monitor recipients of unemployment benefits closely to check that they are actively looking for work.

I’ve lost my job – what should I do?

Notice period

First of all, check that you have been given sufficient notice, as set out in your contract. If you don’t have a contract or a collective labour agreement (union contract), the notice period will be the minimum set out in article 335c of the labour code (LTr in French/ArG in German) corresponding to the length of time you had worked for your employer when you were made redundant:


When you lost your job Legal minimum notice period
During the probation/trial period 7 days
During the first year at the company 1 month
More than 1 and less than 10 years after joining the company 2 months
After more than 10 years of service 3 months

N.B.: The period starts the day after notice is received and, unless it is during the probation period, it runs until the end of a month. So, for example, if you are given notice of redundancy on 12th February during your first year at the company, it will take effect on 31st March (rather than 13th March).

Registering as unemployed

As soon as you find out that you will be unemployed, contact your commune to check whether you need to register with them first. They will also give you details of the steps you need to take to register.


You will need to register with the regional job centre (French: ORP/German: RAV) in person no later than your first day of unemployment, i.e. the day on which you believe you become eligible unemployment benefits.


You must take with you:


  • Your AVS-AI card or your health insurance card;
  • A valid identity document;
  • The “registration with the commune” (“inscription auprès de la commune”) form, if you have not previously registered as unemployed with an ORP;
  • If you are Swiss, proof of residence issued by your commune; or, if you are a foreign citizen, your residence permit;
  • Your termination of employment notice;
  • Evidence of recent jobs (certificats de travail);
  • Education/training certificates and diplomas;
  • Proof of your efforts to find work.

The job centre will then give you an appointment to complete your registration.


Once you are registered as a jobseeker, you will have regular meetings with your personal career adviser.

Our top tip: Jobseekers are expected to act professionally and to prioritise their job search – in fact, it should be seen as a full-time job in itself (or part-time if you are seeking part-time work). For example, you cannot generally postpone or rearrange appointments given to you by the job centre unless you have a very good reason; you can’t take children to your appointments with you; you should treat the meetings like job interviews (including dressing appropriately and arriving in good time); and you have only a limited amount of “holiday”, which has to be built up before you can take it and must be approved by your adviser. Outside of these agreed holiday dates, you are expected to be available and contactable at all times during working hours.

Unemployment funds

When you register with the job centre, you will be given a list of unemployment funds to choose from and a form to fill in and submit to your chosen fund.


You will have to provide your unemployment fund with the following documents:


  • During your first month of unemployment:
        1. A completed unemployment benefits request form (“Demande d’indemnité de chômage“);
        2. A copy of your registration details;
        3. Proof of employment from each employer you have worked for during the last two years (“Attestation de l’employeur” form);
        4. If you are from an EU/EFTA state and have not paid AVS contributions in Switzerland, a completed PD U1 form.


  • At the end of each month:
        1. The personal indications form (“Indications de la personne assurée“);
        2. The intermediate income attestation (“Attestation de gain intermédiaire” form).


Important: If you do not submit your request for unemployment benefits within 3 months of becoming unemployed, you will lose all rights to benefits.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you must:


1. Be completely or partly unemployed;


2. Register in person at your local job centre or commune;


3. Have lost your job and salary;


4. Be resident in Switzerland;

– If you are not Swiss, you must have a valid residence or settlement permit;

– Cross-border workers should apply to the country in which they live.


5. Be of working age;

– This means that you have completed your obligatory education, have not reached the usual retirement age and are not in receipt of a state pension.


6. Have paid unemployment insurance contributions for long enough;

– You must have been employed for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) during the two years preceding your initial registration with the job centre (unless one of the exceptions mentioned below applies).

Our top tip: Strictly only the two years prior to your unemployment are considered, so even if you have, say, 10 years of contributions under your belt, you will not receive any benefits at all if you have had a recent gap in employment of more than a year in the past two years. Do consider this if you take a career break, for example to study (unless you have lived in Switzerland for 10 years or more) or to raise your children; we know of several people who have struggled to find a job after a career break and find themselves without any financial support.

7. Be in a position to work;

– You must be ready and able to accept a suitable job.

Our top tip: This means not having any other commitments that prevent you from working, notably childcare. In other words, if you have young children, you must already have made arrangements for their care.

8. Agree to take part in professional reintegration initiatives proposed by your adviser;


9. Comply with all supervision requirements;

– You must follow the job centre’s instructions and attend all your personal advisory and supervisory meetings.


10. Do your best to avoid unemployment and minimise its duration.

Exception: gaps in contributions

You are exempt from the requirement to have paid 12 months of contributions in the past two years if you meet all the other eligibility criteria and:


  • Have been prevented for working for more than 12 months in the past two years for one of the following reasons:

a. Study or training, provided that you have lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years;

b. Illness, accident or pregnancy, provided that you lived in Switzerland at the time;

c. A custodial sentence in a Swiss prison.


  • Have been working for more than a year in a non-EU/EFTA state;
  • Are a Swiss citizen or an EU/EFTA citizen settled in Switzerland and have paid at least six months of contributions in the past two years;
  • Have been forced to resume work or increase your hours owing to one of the following events occurring in the past year, at which time you lived in Switzerland:

a. Divorce or separation;

b. Death of your spouse/partner;

c. Loss of disability benefits.




  • Self-employed workers are not insured against unemployment and so are not eligible for benefits.
  • Most staff of international organisations do not pay AVS contributions and so do not receive benefits from the state, but usually receive benefits under their organisation’s own scheme, so check with your organisation. In some cases, you will need to follow the procedures described above to register as a jobseeker in Switzerland, but will then provide the proof of you continued job search to your organisation rather than to a Swiss unemployment fund.

Our legal experts will be happy to advise you !

We can help you to understand your options, decide on a course of action and complete administrative procedures. Book your first 45-minute consultation completely free of charge.