If you agree to work for a person or company for a salary or wage, even if the agreement is verbal, it counts as a valid employment contract.

An employment contract guarantees you minimal working conditions:

- Right to a salary in accordance with local and professional guidelines.

- Right to paid leave (generally four weeks per year).

- Sick pay for a defined period in the event of accident or illness.

- Minors under fifteen years of age are not permitted to work. Those under eighteen years of age may not work nights or weekends. Minors may not work more than nine hours a day. If you are domestically employed, your employer is obliged to provide you with accom- modation that protects your private sphere.

- A reasonable period of notice for termination of employment. The employer informs you an adequate time in advance if he/she no longer wishes to employ you.

- AHV/IV (Social Security/Retirement Arrangement and Disability Insurance) (see chapter on social insurances)


Over and over again, Sans-Papiers receive too little pay or no wages at all. If a direct discussion with your employer doesn’t bring any results, in some cantons you may take your case to the employ- ment tribunal. Check with your trade union or infor- mation centre!

You may grant someone power of attorney to lodge an appeal with the employment tribunal and rep- resent you in court. You can even lodge an appeal within five years of returning to your home country.


Tip: When you meet an employer for the first time, ask questions about the work: How much will you earn? How many hours must you work? What types of tasks must you perform or not perform? Try to make your working hours as clear as possi- ble. This is especially important if you live on your employer‘s premises (domestic work). Arrange with them your days off. Ask if you can have the above-mentioned agreements in writing, in the form of a contract. Your employer is legally obliged to provide a written contract (Article 330b, Swiss Code of Obligations).

Tip: Keep a daily record of your working hours and tasks. This way, if there is a problem or dispute with your employer you can prove to them what you have done and when.

Tip: As a Sans-Papiers you may join a trade union without any risk. They can help and support you with legal issues and fight for better working con- ditions.

Social insurances

ocial insurances are obligatory for all persons living in Switzerland. The most important of

them are the Social Security/Retirement Arrange- ment (AHV), Disability/Invalidity Insurance (IV), Unemployment Insurance (ALV), Accident Insur- ance (UVG) and a Pension Fund (Pensionskasse).

Every employer is obliged to register their employ- ees with the various insurances. The insurances are not permitted to report sans-papiers to the migration authorities. Check first with an informa- tion centre.


Once you are registered with the social insurances, you will receive a AHV card. While your employer still employs you illegally, you are at least insured against disability/invalidity and will receive a small pension when you retire (even if you have returned to your home country).

Note! There are some employers who make vari- ous deductions from your salary but do not deposit them with the insurance companies and institu- tions. If you have not received an AHV-card this means your employer has not insured you.

Tip: Speak to your employer about the possibility of registering you with the various social insuranc- es. Under all circumstances, find out in advance what is the usual practice in your canton of resi- dence.

Tip: Before returning to your home country, it is essential to obtain information on the social insur- ance payout options.