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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.2Conditions of service for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

At national level the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) regulations on recognition and the Ordinance on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPETO) guarantee diploma recognition throughout Switzerland and thus the national mobility and freedom of movement in practicing the profession. The conditions of service from entering the profession to retirement (employment conditions, salary, etc.) are regulated by cantonal acts and provisions (Kantonale Bildungsgesetzgebungen).


Planning policy

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office regularly produces 10-year forecasts on numbers of learners, students, graduates and teachers for much of the Swiss education system. Most cantons also keep their own statistics and produce their own forecasts on the areas mentioned.


Entry to the profession

After completing training graduates are not entitled to a job. Some cantons lay down by law that all free teaching posts, or at least all full-time posts, must be published by the school administrations, communes or local school authorities or cantons (cantonal websites, newspaper advertisements, cantonal education periodicals etc.). A public tender often takes place for longer-term substitute positions. Individuals with a degree recognised by the EDK or the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) are entitled to enter the profession at the corresponding schools in all cantons.  The legal basis for equal access to the profession is the Intercantonal Agreement on the Recognition of Educational Qualifications.



Induction (Berufseinführung) has become established in almost all cantons. The types of induction on offer and their organisation vary, however, from canton to canton. Responsibility for induction in cantons with their own university of teacher education lies, as a rule, with the university of teacher education in cooperation with the local schools, while in cantons without their own university of teacher education, induction is carried out by the cantonal educational administration in cooperation with the local schools.

In both models the offers are systematically structured and extensive. Depending on the model, induction lasts up to two years or is not limited in time. Depending on the canton and school level, induction may be compulsory, partly compulsory or voluntary. The induction time offset against the working hours of those entering the profession also differs. The completion of induction is confirmed through a certificate of completion, a cantonal attestation or a certificate for the type of induction attended.

For upper secondary level teachers at vocational schools induction takes place during the in-service training.


Professional status

In most cantons, teachers are employed by the community under public-law contracts, in some cases also under private-law contracts. Civil servant status has been abolished in favour of contractual employment. Teachers are usually employed under contract in a permanent or temporary post. Employment for an indefinite period may be preceded by a temporary employment contract. The temporary employment period lasts one to three years, depending on the statutory regulation. In the case of an employment contract under private law, the probationary period may not be more than three months.

A permanent position may be terminated if there is good cause or abolished if there is a lack of demand. Temporary positions are awarded if teachers cannot commit for a longer period, if they do not have the necessary qualifications, or in order to substitute other teachers, or if longer-term demand does not guarantee the post.

The umbrella organisation for Swiss teachers (Dachverband Lehrerinnen und Lehrer Schweiz [LCH]) has published a job profile and code of conduct (LCH Berufsleitbild - Standesregeln), while the teacher union Syndicat des Enseignants Romands (SER) has published a code of good practice (Code de déontologie).


Replacement measures

Various cantons require teachers to provide a certain amount of supply teaching at their own school. For longer term substitutions teachers may be employed through temporary contracts.


Supporting measures

The cantons offer different support and advisory services for teachers. Support and advisory services are offered through offices of the universities of teacher education or through other institutions and may be provided in the following fields:

  • staff development to extend personal professional competence and individual personal conduct: supervision, crisis counselling, professional counselling;

  • team development to promote cooperation and communication, for conflict and violence prevention, to establish collegial counselling forms;

  • organisational development to support school development projects and reforms or to consolidate school resources;

  • lesson development to structure teaching.

In the event of difficulties within the school class, teachers can turn to the local school authorities or make use of the support of school psychologists, school social workers or universities of teacher education.



Teacher salaries are laid down by the cantons in a salary classification system and vary depending on the canton. Important criteria for fixing salaries include the type and duration of training, working time (full-time, part-time), school level, number of teaching hours, age and seniority, or for additional technical and leadership responsibilities. Teacher assessment impacts on salary in only a few cantons.


Working time and holidays

Teachers’ working time is not based solely on the number of lessons per week. As in the case of cantonal staff, an annual number of working hours is laid down, on average around 1,950 hours. Depending on age, holidays of between four and six weeks are normal.

The actual teaching time is defined through the lessons set out on the timetable during the weeks of school. The employment status is determined by the number of compulsory teaching lessons.
The number of compulsory lessons for a full-time post varies between the cantons. Depending on the school level it is between 22 and 30 lessons of 45 to 50 minutes.

In the working hours outside teaching time the teacher carries out additional duties:

  • lesson planning and follow-up,

  • involvement in the design and organisation of the school, evaluation and development of teaching, public relations work,

  • advising and supporting pupils, cooperation with parents, other schools and specialist staff,

  • continuing professional development and

  • evaluating their own work.

The fields of teaching, lesson planning and follow-up account for around 85% of activity, while the three other fields each account for around 5% of activity. Working time outside lessons also includes the school holidays, which last 12 to 15 weeks, spread over the school year.

For those performing school management roles and special tasks (e.g. classroom teacher function, school library, computer support) the compulsory workload may be reduced. In most cantons there is an age-based reduction in workload of one to two lessons from 50 years of age at the earliest, with a reduction of three lessons from the age of 60 in some cases.


Promotion, advancement

Various supplementary training and continuing professional development (CPD) offers qualify teachers for new job-related activities and to take on special tasks within the school. Supplementary training allows teachers to take on management tasks in schools or to make a contribution to school development through specialised, in-depth knowledge, and to supervise new teachers during or shortly after their teacher training.  The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK), for instance, has adopted profiles for supplementary training courses in school management, for specialist teachers in career guidance, and for educators in the field of media education.

Depending on the basic training, CPD allows teachers to teach additional subjects or change from one school level to another (e.g. from primary school level to upper secondary level). Higher education institutions also offer various teacher training CPD courses. The EDK has recognised, for instance, Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) programmes in supervision, special needs educational management and leadership, educational management, educational innovation and in the field of heterogeneity. At the teacher training institutions, CPD courses (Certificate of Advanced Studies, CAS; Diploma of Advanced Studies, DAS; Master of Advanced Studies, MAS) are offered in the fields of support measures and leadership.

Besides career opportunities within the narrower school sector teachers can also take on new functions outside the school. There are, for instance, opportunities for employment in a university of teacher education, in educational administration and in associated work areas.


Mobility and transfers

Teachers can usually resign by giving three months’ notice to the end of a school semester or school year. If a teacher changes post at their own initiative, they are not entitled to maintain their acquired salary rights. A mandatory teacher transfer is only imposed in exceptional cases.



The school maintaining body is responsible for teacher appointments. The responsibility for the appointment of teachers depends on school level and type of appointment:

Teachers in public compulsory education are generally employees of the communes or the local authority. There are a few cantons in which compulsory education teachers are also staff of the cantons, even though the schools in question are managed by the communes.  Within the framework of the autonomy of the individual school, the school administration may be given certain authorities relating to the employment and dismissal of teachers.

Teachers at state-run upper secondary level general education schools are employees of the cantons. In vocational education and training (VET) at upper secondary level the management of the VET schools resides with different public and private maintaining bodies. The power to employ teachers varies accordingly.

Employment may end, inter alia, through resignation, when a statutory employment condition ceases to exist, retirement, or at the end of an employment period in the case of a temporary contract.

An employment contract may be ended through:

  • ordinary termination of the employment contract by resigning, for which grounds must be provided. The grounds must be directly connected with the employment, be objective and be of some importance. The employment contract can only be terminated at certain dates (end of the semester or school year), giving a specific period of notice;

  • extraordinary termination: the employment contract ends without giving notice. The grounds must be serious and continued employment unacceptable. The following grounds may be given, inter alia: incompetence or serious shortcomings at work or off-duty conduct which is not compatible with the teaching post.

Teachers can terminate their employment giving notice (usually three months) at the end of a semester or school year.


Retirement and pension

For retirement the same rules apply in principle to teachers as to all employees: in Switzerland women retire at 64, men at 65. Some cantons provide for earlier retirement for teachers (63). Early retirement and pensions are possible – with corresponding reductions in the pension. There is, however, no automatic entitlement to early retirement. In some cases, the workload is gradually reduced in the run-up to retirement. If the labour market so allows (e.g. in the event of a teacher shortage), teachers can also work beyond the official pension age.