Employment Law: My employer offered me a raise three months ago. Now he’s telling me that he has to reconsider his decision. Is this legal?

You received a raise, which your employer is now revoking. It is normal to find this unfair and to enquire about the legality of such an act. 

The offer of a raise comes in three main forms:

  • Contract amendment;
  • The oral promise put into writing;
  • The oral promise.


In principle, the law dictates that any modification to the employee’s disadvantage can only be put into effect with his full agreement. This cannot only be admitted. 


The contractual modification:

This applies to you if the salary increase was mentioned in writing in your employment contract. 

If the increase is withdrawn, the employee will be granted an amendment leave. The contract will be “terminated subject to change”. This will give the employer time to present a new employment contract to the employee. The new contract will only come into effect if the employer has given its clear agreement before the end of the period. 

Otherwise, the current contract will be terminated. If this happens, it is possible to sue the employer for unfair dismissal. An employer may not legally dismiss an employee who objects to a reduction in salary. 


The oral promise put into writing:

Your employer has increased the employee’s salary, the pay slips prove it, but this was not noted in the employment contract.

Under Swiss law, any promise is a contract that the parties must respect. The “advantage” of having a promise that is put into practice is that you have formal proof of a salary increase. If it is canceled, it will be impossible to speculate on the will of the employer. 


The oral promise:

The employer has verbally promised an increase to the employee, but has never kept his promise. 

A promise has the value of a written contract under Swiss law. The principle of good faith is applied.

According to Article 22 of the Swiss Code of Obligations, any promise must be followed by an agreement. 

In the case of an oral promise, the greatest difficulty will be to prove the will of the employer. The principle of good faith will be an important ally. 

Please note that a pay cut cannot be legally challenged if it is linked to the employer’s financial problems. 


Do you want to take action and keep your raise? Lawrence answers all your questions and assists you in your legal steps!

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