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Labour law dispute

Are you facing a conflict in your employment relationship? You can file a claim with the Tribunal des prud'hommes, which rules on disputes relating to labour law for private law contracts.

Who should I contact?

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is in charge of judging private law disputes between employers and employees.

It intervenes in particular in the context of disputes concerning the application of provisions relating to the individual contract of employment (within the meaning of articles 319 and following of the Code of Obligations), collective employment contracts and the Federal Act on Gender Equality (GEA - RS 151.1).

Pursuant to article 34 of the Civil Procedure Code, the Tribunal des prud'hommes of Geneva has jurisdiction if the defendant has his/her domicile or registered office in Geneva or if the employee has mainly carried out his/her work in the canton.

How is the Tribunal des prud'hommes organized?

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is composed of several actors who work closely together to handle disputes. It is made up of conciliating judges, 190 judges of whom 36 presidents called "laymen", in other words, who are not career magistrates as well as of legal and administrative staff.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes Office is the sole contact for litigants. It is in charge of the administrative follow-up of the files, to inform the users about the proceedings in progress as well as to direct them on the steps to be taken. It does not deal with legal issues.

How to file a claim with the Tribunal des prud'hommes?

Step 1: bring an action before the court

Your claim must be filed with the Tribunal des prud'hommes’ Office or the Greffe universel. It can also be sent to the court by post or email only if you have a qualified electronic signature within the meaning of the Electronic Signature Act of 18 March 2016.

Your application should necessarily consist of the following elements:

  • Precise and complete designation of the parties: first and last names or corporate name, valid address, etc.
  • Value in dispute: Total amount you request
  • Matter in dispute: when the value in dispute does not exceed Fr. 30'000.-, you can use the simplified application form. If it exceeds Fr. 30'000 your request must contain a complete statement of facts with an indication of the evidence
  • Relevant documents: employment contract, termination letter, salary slips, etc.
     

Download an application form

Step 2: the conciliation

All proceedings begin, except as provided by law, with an attempt at conciliation. It is conducted by a conciliating judge and must be held, so far as possible, within 2 months after the submission of the request. The defendant receives a copy of the request with the summons.

The parties must appear and may be assisted by a close relative (a confidant), a lawyer, or any other professionally qualified agent (e.g. a union secretary), who will accompany them, if necessary, throughout the proceedings.

In some situations, you may be represented at the hearing by a third party.

At the end of this hearing, 2 options are possible:

  • An agreement is reached

This agreement is recorded in the conciliation report which is equivalent to a judgment and a copy of which shall be provided to the parties.

  • The conciliation fails

If no conciliation is achieved, you will receive an authorization to proceed which allows you to bring the case to court within 3 months.

The conciliating judge may also issue a decision at your request as long as the amount in dispute does not exceed Fr. 2'000.-. This decision can be challenged.

In some cases, if no agreement is reached, the conciliation authority may also formulate a proposal for judgment to which either party may object within 20 days. If necessary, the conciliation authority will issue an "authorization to proceed" which will allow you to continue the proceedings in court.

 

Step 3: conduct of the proceedings by the court

The court is composed of a judge who serves as president and 2 judges (employer and employee).

Upon receipt of the claim and the authorization to proceed, as well as the supporting documents, the court sends a copy to the defendant and sets a deadline for a written response.

The proceedings then involve 4 steps:

1/ The investigation (preparatory measures to complete the case file)

2/ The taking of evidence (hearing of the parties and any possible witnesses)

3/ The pleadings (confirmation of everybody's position)

4/ The deliberations (they are held without the presence of the parties)

 

Step 4: service of the judgment

At the end of the proceedings, the court renders its judgment, which is sent to you by registered mail.

What are the procedures for gender equality disputes?

This type of conflict is analyzed in terms of the Federal Act on Gender Equality (GEA - RS 151.1) which aims to promote the equality of women and men in employment relationships. The conciliation and court proceedings are completely free of charge, regardless of the value in dispute.

When a request is based on this act, the conciliation authority is composed of a conciliating judge who serves as president and 2 assessors, 1 female employee and 1 male employer or vice versa.

In court, parity between female employees and male employers or vice versa is also ensured.
The simplified procedure applies to GEA cases.

How much does the proceeding cost?

The proceedings before the conciliation authority are free of charge, regardless of the amount in dispute.

Proceedings before the Tribunal des prud'hommes are free of charge for all cases with a value in dispute of up to Fr. 75'000.-, as well as for all claims under the GEA. Beyond that, fees are charged and will be requested at the very beginning of the proceedings in the form of an advance on costs.

However, unless you are granted a legal aid, you will have to pay all other costs, such as attorney's fees.

Application forms

Below you will find the forms and instructions necessary to file a request for conciliation, as well as the simplified procedure application form to use when you have received authorization to proceed and when the value in dispute of your request does not exceed Fr. 30'000.-.

Forms and documents must be filed in as many copies as there are parties.

For example, if you are suing only one defendant, you must file 2 copies; against 2 defendants, 3 copies, etc.

Contacts

Address

Address

Boulevard Helvétique 27
1207 Genève

Contact details

Desk-telephone

Opening hours
13h30-16h30 (from Monday to Friday)

Mailing address

Tribunal des prud'hommes
Case postale 3688
1211 Genève 3

Questions/answers

In some specific cases (e.g. illness, residence or stay abroad) and upon presentation of supporting documents, a party may be represented at the hearing by a close relative, a lawyer or other professionally qualified agent.

For companies, it is possible to be represented by a person authorized to commit the company from a legal point of view.

In both cases, it is essential to make a request to the Tribunal des prud'hommes Office before the hearing and to inform the opposing party.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes intervenes only in private law disputes.

Disputes between the regular staff of the public administration and the latter are not judged by the Tribunal des prud'hommes, but by the Chambre administrative de la Cour de justice.

The Tribunal des prud'hommes is not competent to deal with disputes relating to cantonal or federal social insurance either. These disputes are generally dealt with by the Chambre des assurances sociales de la Cour de justice.

Decisions of both the conciliation authority and the court may be challenged in the manner indicated to you.

This is not mandatory but recommended, especially if your case is complex.

Before the conciliation authority, proceedings are free of charge regardless of the value in dispute.
In court, if the value in dispute exceeds Fr. 75'000.-, an advance payment on costs will then be requested according to art. 69 of the rules of order setting out the tariff of registries in civil matters 
(RTFMC - E 1 05.10), with the exception of GEA cases which are free of charge.

Value in dispute from Fr. 75'001.- to 100'000.- / Cost from Fr. 200.- to 2'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 100'001.- to 300'000.- / Cost from Fr. 1'000.- to 3'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 300'001.- to 1'000'000.- / Cost from Fr. 2'000.- to 8'000.-

Value in dispute from Fr. 1'000'001.- / Cost from Fr. 10'000.-

See also

Tribunal des prud'hommes

The Tribunal des prud'hommes deals with disputes arising from an employment contract under private law.

Legal aid

You are involved in legal proceedings and do not have the necessary means to pay for lawyers’ fees or legal costs?

Legal advice service and legal counsels

The Judiciary Power does not provide legal advice. You can contact the following associations and organizations.