What is a CEA?

A collective employement agreement (CEA) ensures attractive working conditions.

A CEA is concluded between social partners – employers or employers' associations on the one hand and employees' associations on the other.

Collective employment agreements regulate the working conditions in an industry or region, adapted to its needs. The provisions in a CEA may not be worse than the provisions in the labor law, the Code of Obligations or other laws. However, since they are better in most cases, CEA employees benefit from better working conditions compared to non-subordinates.

To Whom Does a Collective Employment Agreement Apply?

The CEA applies to employees in those companies that apply it. This can be all employees in the respective company or a part of them. Certain functions (such as management) or areas may be excluded, for example.

At the request of all contracting parties and if there are good reasons for doing so, a CEA can be declared generally binding. This means that it then applies at the federal or cantonal level to all employers and employees in an industry or profession.

What Does It Regulate?

In addition to the regulations on working conditions, collective employment agreements contain provisions on the conclusion and duration of the agreement. The CEA also specifies how the contracting parties (social partners) cooperate and monitor compliance with the provisions of the agreement.

Important Elements of a CEA

  • Minimum wages, minimum wage categories
  • Wage supplements, for example for Saturday work
  • Loss of earnings in the event of illness or accident
  • Wage increases and inflation compensation
  • Working hours, vacation and vacation arrangements
  • Compatibility of family and career
  • Parental, paternity and maternity leave
  • Right to paid training and continuing education
  • Participation of the workforce and employee representatives
  • Protection against dismissal
  • Health protection and occupational safety
  • Contract implementation
  • Obligations such as the duty to maintain peace (refraining from strikes)
  • Consequences if a contracting party violates the agreements in the CEA


Hansjörg Schmid

Hansjörg Schmid