Labour law (Employees)

Often, being infected with HIV does not affect a person's ability to work, and there are no jobs that are barred to someone who has been diagnosed with HIV.

What health information do I have to disclose to my (future) employer?

Employees have to tell (future) employers about any aspects of their health that are key to their work. For example, if being HIV-positive limits your ability to work, you must tell your employer about that restriction – but you never have to tell them what particular condition or illness is responsible. This means that, as long as you feel healthy and haven't been signed off sick by your doctor, you don't need to tell your employer anything.

What should I do if a prospective employer asks health questions that they are not allowed to ask during an interview?

If employers ask questions which are irrelevant to the planned employer-employee relationship, job applicants have the right to lie in self-defence. Questions about HIV status may therefore always be answered in the negative.

Are there jobs that I'm not allowed to do because I'm HIV-positive?

There are no jobs in Switzerland that people who are HIV-positive are not allowed to do. This also applies to jobs in healthcare that may involve contact with other people's blood. Providing the normal, prescribed hygiene rules are followed, there's no risk of HIV being transmitted.

Do I have to tell my employer that I get a 50% disability pension if I take a job that involves working half the normal working week or less?

If you feel able to cope with working half a standard week or less, you are not under any legal obligation to notify your employer of your disability pension. You should nonetheless remember that, when state pensions are adjusted, employers are regularly sent forms which they must complete with the nature and duration of employment, as well as the salary that is drawn by the pension recipient. It is therefore worth asking your disability pension agency never to contact your employer directly, but to request the necessary documents via you.

What constitutes wrongful dismissal in connection with HIV/AIDS is involved?

Dismissal solely on the grounds of being infected with HIV is essentially wrongful under the law. However, even if the person who has been dismissed can prove that their dismissal was wrongful, their employment will still end, because labour law gives employers freedom to dismiss their employees. That said, if wrongful dismissal is determined by a judge, the employer may be forced to pay the employee compensation of up to six months' salary. Court proceedings are free of charge if the amount in dispute is less than CHF 30,000.

In an employment reference, is an employer allowed to make any reference to an employee's health?

Employers are not permitted to refer to an employee's state of health in their employment reference, unless their health impacted significantly on their performance and will continue to do so in the future. On no account may diagnoses be mentioned.

The pension fund at my new job is demanding that I fill in a health questionnaire. Do I have to state that I'm HIV-positive?

Yes. You must answer the questions about your health truthfully. The pension fund will then impose a waiting period of a maximum of five years for illnesses that are directly related to HIV. After this period, you will have full insurance cover, including HIV-related illnesses. Always send the completed health questionnaire directly to your pension fund, and not to your employer

My pension fund has imposed a five-year waiting period on me for death and disability risks in connection with my HIV infection. After three years I'm now moving to a new employer, so I'm also changing pension fund. What happens with the proviso?

The full length of the waiting period served with your old pension fund is counted against the new one at your new pension fund. In other words, if a five-year waiting period was imposed by your old pension fund in 2017, and you move to a new pension fund in 2019, as of 2022 the waiting period ceases to apply to benefits related to your HIV infection.

Do I have to state on the questionnaire from the daily sickness benefits insurer that I'm HIV-positive?

Daily sickness benefits insurers are allowed to review the health of the applicant before concluding a contract. This is usually done by means of a health questionnaire, which you must complete truthfully. If you give untrue answers, you are in breach of your duty of disclosure. The insurer may refuse insurance cover on the grounds of a pre-existing condition, such as an HIV infection, diabetes, physical complaints, back pain, etc. In these cases, the employer is responsible for continuing to pay your salary directly if you fall ill. The employer will be notified by the insurance company that you are excluded from daily sickness benefits insurance, but not the reasons for their decision, i.e. your diagnosis. Major employers mostly conclude contracts with insurance companies that do not require a health check.

Comprehensive information and model letters can be found in the "Labour law", "Daily benefits insurance" and "Pension fund" sections of our legal guidebook. (Rechtsratgeber PDF in German or French).