Working at the WSL

Our employees are our most valuable resources. The WSL employs approximately 600 people from 40 countries. We endeavour to provide an inspiring and motivating work environment and to be attractive as an employer by offering a first-class research environment and interesting career opportunities in science.

WSL is the holder of the quality label "Employers We Trust. It is the quality label for companies that use surveys in a systematic and targeted manner to obtain qualified feedback on the work situation and use it to initiate targeted development processes. Swiss companies and the University of Fribourg, together with the independent consulting and research company Empiricon, have developed quality criteria that are required to obtain the "Employers We Trust." label. WSL is pleased to hold this label.


Human Resources

As an employer that is part of the ETH Domain and one of the four Swiss federal research institutes, research work and a passion for nature can be combined at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).

Our remit is to undertake cutting-edge research for man and the environment for which we employ nationally and internationally-qualified specialists with broad fields of expertise.

Training and professional development are regarded by the WSL as being critically important. Our staff have the benefit of attractive, modern working conditions as well as a friendly and pleasant working environment. A clear organisational structure, transparent communication and the receipt of continual new, exciting commissions serve to exert a further positive impact on this.

Integral components of the employment contract:

Legal basis

Pension Fund

Research Integrity at WSL (more information)


Working Hours
Based on a 5-day week, the weekly working time amounts to a 41-hour working week for full time work.


  • 6 Weeks up to the age of 20
  • 5 Weeks from the age of 21 onwards
  • 6 Weeks from the age of 50 onwards

Probationary Period
3 months; for scientific staff and staff with special functions in the support section, the probationary period is set at a max. of 6 months.

Notice Periods
During the probationary period, the notice period is 1 week in the 1st and 2nd month of employment and 1 month from the 3rd month of employment. After the probationary period, the notice period is 1 month in the 1st year of service and 3 months from the 2nd year of service. In the case of fixed-term employment, no notice of termination is required. Ordinary notice of termination is given at the end of each month.

Salary is dependent on duties, useful skills and performance as per the ETH Division Salary System based on the annual qualification and management discussions, as well as on the internal directives for fixed salaries, respectively.

Additional Payments and Benefits

  • Individual professional education as well as training is promoted and supported
  • Language courses
  • Public Transport:
    • Half-fare travel card: Free for employment of 6 months onwards and more than 50% workload.
    • GA Travelcard: Discount for employment of 12 months onwards and more than 50% workload.
  • Low-priced Parking available
  • Personnel restaurant
  • Library: Lib4RI Library; comprehensive e-offers and reference works
  • Rental cars: Attractive offers
  • Sport: Membership of the ASVZ

Social benefits

Salary entitlement
In case of illness and accidents: 1st and 2nd year of service: 100% continued pay for 365 days. 3rd year of service and more: 100% continued pay for 365 days and after (366 day and following) 90% salary for maximum 730 days. Private daily allowance insurance is recommended to be checked.

Maternity leave: 100% for a period of four months.
Paternity leave: 100% for a period of 20 days.

In case of leave due to obligatory Swiss military and civil defence service and during the length of alternative civil service: 100%.

Pension Fund
In case of an employment relationship of more than 3 months and an annual income above entry threshold, the employee will be insured by the Swiss Federal Pension Fund PUBLICA (Pension Fund of the ETH Division).

The amount of the savings contributions can be found on the PUBLICA website.

The Risk Premium is 0.55% for employees and 0.95% for the WSL, as employer. PUBLICA can request a health examination and insist on a provision to cover death and invalidity risks. This is valid for no more than 5 years.

To optimize the pension plan voluntary savings contributions can be made.

Family Allowances (monthly, year 2024)

  • CHF 383.80 for the 1st child
  • CHF 245.05 for each further child until the age of 16
  • CHF 275.90 for each child from the age of 17 onwards who is still studying

Payment for employment with a workload of at least 50% and in accordance with the Swiss Family Allowances Act. If the workload is less than 50%, the applicable cantonal allowances are paid.

General Accident Insurance
You are covered against occupational and non-occupational accidents by the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA) provided that you work for more than 8 hours/week. This insurance will cover the costs of admission to non-specialist hospital wards. The premium share for employees for non-occupational accident insurance is 0.44%. The premium for occupational accident insurance is covered in full by WSL.

Part-time employees with a workload of less than 8 hours per week are only insured for occupational accidents including the way to work.

Additional accident insurance can be taken out to optimize insurance coverage.

Living Abroad

Welcome to Switzerland!

With the following weblinks and information we’d like to provide you an overview about living and working in Switzerland:

  • and present general and useful information about daily life in Switzerland
  • offers practical information for researchers about general facts to travelling, accommodations, residence permits, insurances, taxes etc.
  • the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)
  • for the Swiss internet comparison service in order to compare rates and services of insurances, banks etc.
  • "Gesundheitsdirektion Zürich" offers details to the mandatory Swiss health insurance