Labour Market and Unemployment Insurance

Focus on employment

Unemployment is directly linked to the economic cycle and no-one can forecast this will evolve in the long term. It is therefore important to have effective instruments ready for the good times and the bad so as to be able to provide efficient support to those affected at all times.

The Labour Market/Unemployment Insurance Division is responsible for the Unemployment Insurance Act. The partners who assist in carrying out these tasks are the cantonal offices (KAST), regional employment centres (RAV) and the logistics offices for labour market measures (LAM) in the cantons, as well as public and private unemployment insurance funds. In cooperation with these partners and other labour market institutions, unemployment insurance offers unemployed persons an adequate compensatory income and helps jobseekers achieve quick and lasting reintegration into the labour market. The division also represents Switzerland in international matters. In addition, it manages the unemployment fund’s resources and operates an IT centre to support the implementing agencies in the Labour Market/Unemployment Insurance Division. The Division represents Switzerland on matters relating to the international labour market.

Lawmaking and implementation

Our core tasks include lawmaking and the processing of legal questions concerning the labour market and unemployment insurance. We ensure the uniform application of the Unemployment Insurance Act by issuing instructions to the various implementing agencies, and by advising and monitoring cantonal offices and unemployment insurance funds.

Management of the implementing offices

Our core tasks also include management of the cantonal implementing offices, i.e. the cantonal offices (KAST), regional employment centres (RAV) and logistics offices for labour market measures (LAM) and of public and private unemployment insurance funds. RAV/LAM/KAST are managed using measurable, resultoriented objectives. These are set out in an agreement between the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research and the cantonal governments.

IT support

Unemployment insurance is managed using two main electronic information systems: a system for activities relating to job placement (AVAM) and another for unemployment payments (ASAL). The data from both these systems are compiled in SECO’s information system for labour market data analysis (LAMDA) and made available to the cantons for the purposes of controlling. We also support the cantons in terms of quality assurance, organisation and training.


Unemployment insurance provides compensatory income in the form of unemployment benefits to those concerned as compensation for loss of income. Short-time work compensation is designed to prevent the loss of jobs in the event of a temporary lack of work due to the economic situation. The same aim is pursued with bad weather compensation, which can be paid in certain sectors (e.g. construction), when it is impossible to continue work due to adverse weather conditions. If an employer is unable to pay, the employees’ loss of income for work performed is compensated for a limited period in the form of insolvency payments.

Labour market measures

We use specific instruments to support the rapid and lasting integration of jobseekers in the labour market. These instruments include courses and programmes for temporary employment, but also training businesses, practical work experience, motivation semesters as well as job orientation and training subsidies.

Preventive measures

Preventive measures can be helpful to those affected by imminent collective redundancies. The regional employment centres (RAV) assist the persons concerned by providing advice and mediation services. These preventive measures primarily involve clarification and qualification measures and the provision of services within the company to help staff look for alternative employment.

Last modification 04.02.2016

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