Social Partners of the MEM industries FAQ


What are the different interests and common goals?


  • good conditions of employment
  • job security
  • share in economic success


  • competitiveness
  • low production costs  
  • high earnings

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Who represents my interests in the company?

Employees concerns and interests are observed by an employee representative committee. The employee representative committee is elected by the employees.
In larger companies employee representative committees can be formed for each of the divisions.
The employee representative committee represents the interests of the employees to the management and associations. The CEA governs the adisory support for the contracting parties.

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How can I have a say?

In each company that is party to the collective employment agreement (CEA) employee representations can be formed whose rights are defined in the CEA. They search for a solutions to any issues together with the management.

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Who finds answers to questions beyond the company?

Questions and problems that concern the whole industry are dealt with by the associations (for example: working time, holidays).
The contracting parties cultivate good co-operation and form joint working groups for specific questions (for example: advanced training, equality, safety at work).
Current problems are discussed in daily contacts between the associations.

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What are the advantages of the CEA?

with CEA

  • Working conditions negotiated in partnership for all employees
  • Peace at work
  • Procedure for the settlement of disputes
  • Solid foundation for the growth of the industry
  • Principles for relations between the Social Partners at company and association level
  • Regulated right of co-operation in the company
  • Measures for education and advanced training

without CEA

  • Haggling for individual advantages
  • Industrial disputes
  • No stable boundary conditions for the economy
  • Uncertain socio-political environment Minimal welfare protection


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How long does the CEA apply?

The «Agreement in the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Industry» (CEA) applies for a period of five years (Current: 2023 - 2028).

The CEA is periodically renegotiated between the parties and adapted to the changed environment.

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How are these common services financed?

Solidarity dues of SFr. 5.00 are deducted from all employees.
The members of a contracting party get these dues back.
Money from the solidarity contribution fund will be used, for example, for contributions for training employee representatives (AAA), issuing the CEA and documents for informing apprentices about the CEA.

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To whom does the CEA apply?

The CEA in the MEM-Industry applies to all full-time and part-time employees in companies who are members of the ASM Employer's Association in the Swiss Mechanical Engineering Industry (Swissmem).

The CEA also applies to employees who are not members of a contracting party (trade union, management or staff association.

The CEA does not apply to temporary staff, auxiliaries (up to 3 months) and apprentices. The provisions of the CEA are to be applied to these groups appropriately.

Only individual provisions of the CEA apply to trainees, whereby the remaining provisions are to be applied as appropriate.

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Who puts the provisions of the CEA into practice?

The CEA is put into practice by the social partners in the company (Management and Employee Representatives).

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What are the procedures in the event of differences of opinion?

The employee representative committee and the management meet regularly for discussions. In the case of clear problems a solution is generally found in these meetings. However, sometimes differences can remain. An important part of the CEA therefore includes rules establishing procedures to be followed in the event of differences of opinion. This model for resolving conflict is structured in three stages:

  • Negotiations in the company
    The employee representative committee and the management regularly discuss current problems and concerns. Generally, a solution acceptable to both sides is found in these discussions.
  • Consultation with associations
    If the employee representative committee and the management cannot agree, the employee representative committees and the ASM (Swissmem) can be consulted as brokers (what are called joint negotiations).
  • Court of Arbitration
    The Court of Arbitration is the final stage. It comprises a representative each of the employees and the employer, and a jointly elected Chairperson. The Court of Arbitration settles the case finally. Disputes are rarely referred to arbitration.

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What laws apply?

Employees and employers have different rights and obligations which need to be defined clearly. The following laws serve this purpose:

  • contract of employment
  • company rules
  • collective employment agreement (CEA)
  • labor law
  • Swiss Code of Obligations (OR)
  • workers' participation law

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What is the basis of the labor law?

civil law

  • Swiss Code of Obligations
  • no plaintiff, no judge.

collective labor law

  • collective employment agreement (CEA)
  • enforcement by the associations and/or the concerned parties

public law

  • labor law
  • enforcement proprio motu.

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What is laid down in the Swiss code of obligations (OR)?

The Swiss code of obligations sets out the general regulations concerning labor law. These minimal statutory provisions apply to all companies.

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What is laid down in the labor law?

The labor law and its corresponding regulations state employees protection, e.g. by defining maximum working hours.

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What is laid down in the workers' participation law?

The workers' participation law contains regulations concerning employees' right to information and consultation in the company.

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What is laid down in the collective employment agreement (CEA)?

The Collective Employment Agreement (CEA) governs the general provisions for the industry. Many provisions in the CEA are regulated more advantageously than the legal minimum requirement. If the CEA does not provide rules for a specific item, the legal provisions, (ArG, OR, MwG), apply.

Co-operation in the company

Extended rights for employee representatives to co-operate in the company based on the four stages of Information, Consultation, Joint Decision-making and Self-Administration.

Contemporary working conditions

Working time is specified as annual working time of 2080 = 52 x 40 hours. Using the Long-Term Account overtime can be accumulated for a long-term holiday, for example. All employees have a right to at least 5 weeks holiday and 9 paid public holidays.

Progressive welfare benefits

  • Continued payment of salary up to 100% on illness or accident
  • 16 weeks maternity leave
  • Recommendation for unpaid paternity leave of 4 weeks max
    Generous holiday regulations for all age groups

Apprentices of any age get 7 weeks holiday in the first year of their apprenticeship, 6 weeks in the 2nd year and 5 weeks in the 3rd and 4th years. Young people up until the eve of their 18th birthday enjoy 7 weeks holiday, 6 weeks from the eve of their 18th birthday and 5 weeks from the eve of their 19th birthday.

Clearly regulated payments during military service

Single people with no duty of support receive 65% of their salary in accordance with the Collective Employment Agreement in the MEM-Industry; married people and single people with a duty of support receive 80%. Even the payments during the remainder of military service are clearly regulated.

Maternity/paternity leave

This was introduced in the MEM-Industry long before maternity insurance received the YES vote in the Swiss Federal Parliament. Under the Collective Employment Agreement women employees are entitled to 16 weeks maternity leave on full salary. Maternity leave does not lead to a reduction in holiday entitlement. Fathers will be granted paid paternity leave of two weeks (= ten working days). Subject to operating constraints, it is recommended that companies grant up to four weeks’ additional unpaid paternity leave from the time of birth on request.

Generous advanced training

Education and advanced training are promoted and supported by the CEA. Companies are recommended to provide at least 3 days per annum per full-time job for this.


Co-operation between employees and employers, and their organisations, is based on peace at work and partnership. Joint working groups are formed on current topics In the event of Differences of opinion there is a procedure for settling conflict.

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What is laid out in the company rules?

Many companies have their own sets of rules which specify the implementation of the regulations in the firm, for example work hours.

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What is laid out in the contract of employment?

The individual contract of employement covers among other things:

  • contracting parties
  • starting date
  • function/duties
  • salary
  • probation period

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Last update: 01.07.2020