The fact sheet for insured persons (PDF, 289 kB, 26.07.2023) (in German) explains how the AHV reform of 1 January 2024 will affect entitlement to unemployment benefit. Only women are affected, so the information in this fact sheet only applies to women. The reform will not entail any changes for men.
Effects of the AHV reform
What to do if you are unemployed?
The entire working population of Switzerland, except those who are self-employed, are insured for unemployment as a mandatory requirement. The obligation to pay contributions is regulated by the federal act on OASI. The income is insured by the unemployment insurance scheme (UI) for those who earn an average monthly income of at least CHF 500.
The self-employed are not insured.
The insurance entitlement also does not apply to persons who are employed but who, in their position as a Board member in an AG, or a partner in a GmbH, or as participants in the financing of the business, or as members of a top-level operational decision-making committee, determine or can significantly influence the decisions of the employer; this also applies to their spouses or registered partners if they also work for the company. You can ask at your unemployment insurance fund for more details.
If you are Swiss, or a foreign national with a long-term residence permit in Switzerland, and you had been working abroad as an employee, or you studied abroad, please see Question 2.
The entitlement to unemployment benefit (UB) ends on reaching the statutory retirement age or when drawing an old-age pension (OASI).
The entitlement to unemployment benefit (UB) depends on the following conditions:
Status of being unemployed
You have to be partly or wholly unemployed. You are likewise insured if you have a part-time position and you are looking for a full-time position or an additional part-time position. Important: You are only considered to be unemployed if you have signed on for employment services. You can do this on www.work.swiss or in person at your regional employment centre (RAV).
Work stoppages/loss of income
You have to have at least 2 days of work stoppage and the corresponding loss of income.
Residence in Switzerland
Your nationality is not relevant to your claim to compensation, but you have to be resident in Switzerland (foreign nationals have to have a valid long-term or basic residence permit). If you live abroad and work in Switzerland (as a cross-border commuter), you will usually receive your unemployment benefit in the country where you are domiciled, and according to that country’s regulations.
You have to have completed your compulsory schooling and be below the statutory retirement age and not be drawing an old-age pension (OASI).
You have to show that you have paid contributions for at least 12 months during the past two years (qualifying period for contributions), before first applying, i.e. you have worked as an employee.
If you stopped working to dedicate yourself to bringing up a child aged under 10 and did not draw unemployment benefit during that time, then you have to show that you have paid contributions for at least 12 months during the past four years. Each additional birth of a child will extend the qualifying period for contributions by a maximum of two years.
If you were already drawing unemployment benefit when you stopped working to bring up your child aged under 10, and you did not claim all the daily allowances to which you were entitled at that time, and you do not meet the required contribution period of 12 months at the time when you re-applied, then your qualifying period for drawing benefits is extended by two years. This re-application must be done within four years from the end of the last qualifying period for drawing benefits. During this extension period, you can then draw the daily allowances that you had not claimed.
If you gave up self-employment in the last two years before submitting the application, the qualifying period for contributions can also be extended.
If a qualifying period for drawing benefits already passed when you took up self-employment and if the re-application takes place within two years of it ending, it can be extended by two years.
The period of paying contributions also includes:
- Working as an employee in Switzerland in a position that is subject to contributions;
- Contribution period in an EU/EFTA country as an EU/EFTA citizen, if you had last worked as an employee in Switzerland in a position subject to contributions; For cross-border commuters domiciled in Switzerland the accrediting also applies when they did not last work as an employee in Switzerland in a position subject to contributions;
- Working as an employee in a position subject to contributions for a Swiss company abroad (posting); Swiss military, civilian or civil defence service.
Missing contribution period
Even when missing the contribution period you are still insured if you were unable to work for a total period of more than 12 months due to...
- Education, provided you have been resident in Switzerland for at least 10 years;
- Illness, accident or pregnancy, provided you were resident in Switzerland during that period;
- Staying at a Swiss psychiatric hospital.
- if you lived and worked in a non-EU/EFTA country for longer than one year;
- if you are a Swiss citizen or a citizen of an EU/EFTA country with residency in Switzerland and
- you are able to provide proof that you paid contributions in Switzerland for six months within the two years prior to registering for unemployment insurance.
You are also insured without having to pay contributions if you are compelled for one of the following reasons, or some similar reason, to take on or expand the scope of a non-self-employed position, and the incident did not happen more than one year ago, and when it happened you were resident in Switzerland:
- Divorce or ending of a civil partnership;
- Separation (marriage or partnership)
- Death of a spouse or registered partner;
- A disability allowance comes to an end
Fit for placement
You must be fit for placement, that is to say willing and entitled to take on a reasonable job and to participate in integration measures (see the “Labour market measures: The first step to re-joining the labour market” information service, no. 716.800).
You have to personally attend the information day and the advisory and monitoring interviews as required by the regulations of the RAV. Moreover, you have to make every reasonable effort to prevent or shorten unemployment.
Information on the available public and private unemployment insurance funds (UIF) is available at work.swiss or from your RAV. Once you have chosen one, this is binding for you for the whole qualifying period that is allocated for drawing benefits.
To clarify your claim, the unemployment insurance fund will require:
- The form «Application for unemployment benefit»
- Employer’s certificates from the last two years
- Other information required by the unemployment insurance fund
- The form «PD U1» if you have come to Switzerland from an EU/EFTA country
You have to submit the following documents to your UIF at the end of each month:
- The form «Details of the insured person»
- Other information required by the UIF
All the forms required can be obtained at work.swiss or at your enforcement offices. Claims which are not submitted within three months will expire.
As part of your obligation to cooperate you have to provide, free of charge, all information that is required for examining your claim. This also includes informing your enforcement offices of any changes that affect your claim. This may be for example: temporary employment, taking up self-employment, illness or accident.
The enforcement offices rely on documents that are complete, correctly filled in and submitted on time. Only then can the unemployment insurance fund correctly set your unemployment benefit and pay it out on time.
As part of your duty to minimise the benefits paid out, you are obliged to make every reasonable effort to shorten your unemployment. You have to make targeted efforts to find a new job, already before the onset of your unemployment and generally in the form of a formal job application – if necessary also outside your former profession. Applications without a concrete job offer (so-called blind applications) are considered supplementary.
You have to submit your efforts to find work to the RAV by no later than the 5th day of the following month. Evidence of your efforts to find work that are submitted later than this without a justifying reason will no longer be accepted. You are obliged to accept a reasonable position of employment when offered.
You must inform your RAV and your unemployment insurance fund at an early stage of any work performed while drawing unemployment benefit.
In principle you have to accept any work without delay. Work that is deemed to be unreasonable, and therefore excepted from this obligation to accept it, is one that...
- does not satisfy your usual working conditions;
- does not take due consideration of your skills and your previous line of work (this does not apply to persons under the age of 30);
- does not suit your personal circumstances (age, health, family);
- requires a daily commute of more than four hours;
- hinders the reintegration in your own profession, assuming there is a chance of that happening within a reasonable amount of time;
- provides you with an income which is less than 70% of the insured salary, unless you receive compensation payments as part of a temporary earnings.
You receive 5 days’ daily allowance per week (Monday to Friday). Because the number of working days varies from month to month1, the unemployment benefit (UB) that is paid out also varies accordingly. The level of the UB basically depends on the salary subject to OASI (statutory old-age pension), which you received on average in the past 6 months – or if more advantageous, 12 months – before you became unemployed (= insured salary2).
You will receive a UB amounting to 80% of the insured salary if...
- You have child maintenance obligations;
- Your insured salary does not exceed CHF 3,797;
- You are drawing a disability allowance which corresponds to a degree of disability of at least 40%.
In all other cases you will receive a UB amounting to 70% of the insured salary.
If you have child maintenance obligations you are in principle entitled to child and education allowances. The level of the allowances is set by the family allowance laws of the respective canton.
The statutory social insurance contributions3 and, in the case of foreign nationals, any withholding tax that may apply, are to be deducted from the unemployment benefit4.
Daily allowance for those who are exempt from contributions
If you are exempt from complying with the contribution period you are entitled to 90 days’ daily allowance. Your daily allowance is 80% of your flat-rate amount, which will be CHF 153, 127, 102 or 40 per day depending on the level of qualification and age. These amounts will be reduced by half if the reason why you are exempt from the contribution period is school education, retraining in a new field, further training or on completing an apprenticeship, and you are less than 25 years of age, and you do not have any child maintenance obligations.
1The number of working days in a month varies from 20 to 23; the average is 21.7 days.
2If there are large fluctuations in the salary the average figure is used.
3Social insurance contributions: Contributions to the statutory pension schemes OASI/DI/LoE(OASI = old age and survivors insurance, DI = disability insurance, LoE = loss-of-earnings compensation), the obligatory non-occupational accident insurance, and to the occupational pension. This is to prevent gaps in the contributions and insurance. Your UIF will arrange what is required. One should note that the OPA contributions cover the risk of disability and death, but not old-age/retirement. You will find more information about occupational pensions in the “Occupational pensions for unemployed people” (no. 716.201) information service.
4This is only of importance to foreign nationals who are subject to withholding tax.
The Unemployment Insurance Act (UIA) basically stipulates a qualifying period with a maximum period for drawing an allowance of two years. The reference date for the start of this qualifying period is the first day on which you meet all the requirements for an entitlement.
Depending on the requirements met, you are entitled to the following maximum daily allowance:
The unemployment insurance fund (UIF) usually pays the daily allowance for each month in the course of the following month. You will receive a written statement. To ensure a prompt payment of the daily allowance it is important that you submit all the required documents to the UIF as soon as possible.
You work on self-employed or non-self-employed basis and earn an income that is less than your unemployment benefit (UB). The income earned from this work is referred to as temporary earnings. Your UB (compensation payment) amounts to 80% or 70% of the difference between the temporary earnings earned and the insured salary, for a period of at least 12 months. The temporary earnings must be paid in the usual way for the location and profession. It is always beneficial for you to earn temporary earnings, because by doing this...
- you improve your income because the interim income combined with the compensation payment from the UI is always higher than the UB;
- you earn new contribution periods; you do not earn any contribution periods with self-employed temporary earnings; earnings as part of a temporary placement financed by the unemployment insurance, or earnings from participation in a labour market measure funded by the public sector;
- offers you the chance to gain more professional experience and to make interesting contacts; what is more, it is easier to find a new job from an existing position of employment.
If you fail to exercise your duties your entitlement will be temporarily suspended. This means you will not receive any daily allowances for a certain period of time. This is specifically the case when you...
- become unemployed through your own fault;
- do not make sufficient efforts of your own to find a reasonable job;
- do not obey the monitoring requirements / directives of the RAV, in particular by not accepting reasonable allocated work, or by not attending or cutting short a labour market measure for no good reason, or you impair the measure or make it impossible;
- fail to comply with your obligations to report and provide information;
- obtain unemployment benefit unlawfully (here the mere attempt suffices).
The suspension lasts for 1 to 60 days depending on the degree of culpability. Only the days on which you satisfy all the conditions for the claim are counted as days of suspension. If the entitlement is suspended repeatedly, a longer period of suspension will be set.
The first daily allowance payment is only paid out after the waiting period days, similar to a “deductible”. Only the days on which you satisfy all the conditions for the claim are counted as waiting period days.
In principle the entitlement to unemployment benefit starts after a standard waiting period of five days of monitored unemployment.
In certain cases it may be necessary to observe the following special waiting period days in addition to the standard ones:
- One day, if you were engaged in a seasonal job or work in a profession where frequently changing or short-term contracts are common, before your time of unemployment;
- Five days, if you are specifically exempt from the contribution period due to a protracted illness, pregnancy, an accident, the disability or death of a spouse, separation, divorce, a stay in a Swiss psychiatric hospital, or returning from a working visit abroad;
- 120 days, if you are exempt from observing the contribution period due to school education, retraining in a new field, or further training, either alone or in combination with another ground for exemption.
After 60 days of monitored unemployment you are entitled to five days of “leave from monitoring” (one week). These are days when you do not have to comply with the monitoring rules, do not have to make any efforts at finding work, and do not have to be ready for a job placement. You can also save up the five monitoring-free days, for example in order to use 10 days of “leave from monitoring” (two weeks) after a period of 120 days of monitored unemployment. You have to inform your RAV two weeks in advance when you are using your days of “leave”.
You cannot carry forward any monitoring-free days that you do not use before the qualifying period ends, to a subsequent qualifying period. The monitoring-free days that are not used cannot be paid out in the form of cash, neither when changing the qualifying period nor when starting employment.
You must report your incapacity to work due to illness, accident or pregnancy to the RAV within one week.
For an accident, you also have to notify your unemployment insurance fund so that the accident can be reported to Suva and if you were taking part in a labour market measure, the organiser. In the event of an accident, you will receive benefit payments from the unemployment insurance for the first three days (incl. the day of the accident). After this you receive the daily allowance from Suva (the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund).
In the event of incapacity to work due to illness or pregnancy you are only entitled to unemployment benefits for the first 30 days of your incapacity to work. The daily sickness allowance is limited to 44 days within the qualifying period for drawing benefits.
You must report maternity, paternity or care leave to your RAV in good time.
You are not entitled to unemployment benefit during maternity, paternity or care leave. You do not have to fulfil any obligations with regard to the unemployment insurance during this period either.
Compensation during maternity, paternity or care leave is governed by the Loss of Earnings Compensation Act (LECA). Contact your OASI compensation office for more information (see also leaflets from the OASI/DI information centre:
LEC / MB / PB I Leaflets I Leaflets & forms I OASI/DI information centre (ahv-iv.ch)).
If the compensation for loss of earnings during your Swiss military service or civilian service is for no more than 30 days, or during your civil defence service, is less than your unemployment benefit, then the unemployment insurance fund will pay out the difference. This does not include military training schools, transport services or comparable services performed for other countries.
Ask at your RAV for relevant information and see the brochure «Benefits for job searches abroad» (in German): Information service for unemployed people.
All directives and decisions of the enforcement offices must be issued in writing. A distinction is made between rulings and the daily allowance statements.
Every ruling will include a note about the legal means of appeal, stating what you need to do when you do not agree with the ruling. In principle the appeal process is free of charge.
The daily allowance statement is not a ruling, so you cannot contest it directly. If you do not agree with such a statement, you have to request a contestable ruling within 90 days from the time when you received it.
In any case we certainly recommend that you always first arrange for a consultation with the instance issuing the ruling before you submit a written appeal.
Other legal questions and competent instances
The unemployment insurance scheme is implemented on a decentralised basis. SECO is the supervisory authority for unemployment insurance, but its tasks do not include making statements in response to decisions or rulings of the competent enforcement offices (RAVs, unemployment insurance funds, cantonal offices). They are responsible for deciding on specific cases and providing information.
The cantonal employment office of the canton in which the place of business is located or where the company has its registered office, is responsible for deciding on applications for short-time working compensation. The cantonal employment office of the canton in which the place of business is located is responsible for deciding on applications for bad weather compensation. If you have any questions please contact the applicable office directly.
Claiming the compensation
The unemployment insurance fund which you chose is responsible for providing information about claiming the compensation.
The unemployment insurance fund which you chose is responsible for providing information about the entitlement to daily allowances, how they are calculated incl. temporary earnings, and the suspension of entitlement in the case of unemployment through the person's own fault (e.g. as a result of giving notice without first having a new position ready). If you are not yet registered, contact the public unemployment insurance fund of your canton or an unemployment insurance fund of an employees’ or employers’ organisation of your free choice.
If you do not agree with the benefits statement issued by your unemployment insurance fund, you have to request a ruling within 90 days from the time you receive it. You can appeal against this in writing to the unemployment insurance fund, which will then examine your case again and issue a decision on the appeal. Should the decision about the appeal not agree with your expectations, you can take the case further to the cantonal Insurance Court and then if necessary to the Federal Court.
If you do not agree with a ruling of your unemployment insurance fund, for example concerning your entitlement to benefits, you can lodge an appeal directly and then a complaint.
For appeals and complaints it is important to state the result that you hope to achieve (petition) and to briefly explain why (statement of grounds). You have to enclose the contested decision and any documents you cite and that are in your possession.
Instead of an appeal or standard complaint you can also submit a supervisory complaint. If your unemployment insurance fund does not issue a benefits statement, ruling or decision about the appeal for a period of several months, you can submit a complaint for denial of rights or delay in granting rights, directly to the cantonal Insurance Court.
The regional employment centre (RAV) will advise you personally – already before the time of unemployment or during it. Your RAV personnel consultant will work with you to try and find a suitable position for you as quickly as possible. The RAV is the right point of contact for information about training and employment measures, as well as cases of suspension of entitlement due to insufficient efforts to find work.
If you do not agree with a ruling of the regional employment centre or cantonal employment office, you can submit an appeal – at the instance indicated in the legal notice on rights of appeal – and if necessary take the case further by contesting the decision about the appeal at the cantonal appeals instance (Insurance Court, appeals committee) and then finally at the Federal Insurance Court in Lucerne.
Important: If you are instructed to attend a labour market measure such as a course, employment programme etc., you cannot contest this directly, but only if you are issued with a suspension of benefits ruling because you failed to attend through no fault of your own or the labour market measure had been cancelled.
For appeals and complaints it is important to state the result that you hope to achieve (petition) and to briefly explain why (statement of grounds). You have to enclose the contested decision and any documents you cite and that are in your possession.
The appeal process is free of charge provided the dispute relates to insurance payments and not formal matters, and the accusation of wilful misconduct of the proceedings does not have to be made. Instead of an appeal or standard complaint you can also submit a supervisory complaint. If your RAV does not issue a ruling or decision about the appeal for a period of several months, you can submit a complaint for denial of rights or delay in granting rights, directly to the cantonal appeals instance (cantonal Insurance Court, Appeals Committee).
We recommend that you first contact your RAV personnel consultant for a discussion and tell them about your concerns. Perhaps you will be able to find a solution together. Otherwise you can usually put in a request to your RAV personnel consultant or your RAV management to change the RAV personnel consultant.
If there are still problems in your inter-personal relationship, you have the option of lodging a supervisory complaint with the respective body responsible for the enforcement office. The responsible body for the public unemployment insurance fund, the cantonal employment office and the RAV is the canton or local government. The responsible body for the private unemployment insurance fund is the employee or employer organisation which manages the unemployment insurance fund.
Do you have any questions about your giving notice to leave your job, or about a possible insurance cover for the period after you leave your job? Regarding these and similar issues please contact an advisory centre that specialises in employment law and social insurance law.