The information on this page has largely been translated from the laws in French (also available in German and Italian), so in case of any discrepancy, the official Swiss languages take precedence.

Personal leave

As an EPFL employee, you are entitled to five weeks of paid personal leave every calendar year, and an additional week if you are under 20 or over 50. You must take two consecutive weeks of leave every year, you must use up all five weeks in each calendar year as far as possible, and EPFL HR really does not want you to carry vacation days over year to year.

In general, you can take vacation whenever you want as long as your advisor agrees and, during a semester, the lecturer you are TAing for agrees. The latter may ask you to find someone to replace you as TA.

Various circumstances can additionally count as paid time off (see sources), of which the following are probably most relevant to PhD students:

(RS 172.220.113 art. 51, RS 172.220.113 art. 52, LEX 4.1.4 en/fr)

Sickness and accidents

If you fall sick or have an accidental injury, you are entitled to up to 3 days of paid leave without any special justification. You will be granted additional paid leave if you have a doctor’s note. There are limits on how long such leave can last and under what conditions; consult the laws for more details. Of course, paid leave ends if the contract ends, which is usually within a year for PhD students.

(RS 172.220.113 arts. 36–36c)


If you have newly become a mother, you are entitled to 4 months of paid maternity leave, starting at most 1 month before the birth of the child. You can choose to convert the second half of your leave into reduced working hours with the agreement of your supervisor, e.g. 2 months at 50% instead of 1 month of full leave. Also, talk to your doctoral program head for details about stopping the ‘PhD clock’.

If you have newly become a father, you are entitled to 20 days of paid paternity leave, of which 10 must be taken in the first six months after birth and the other 10 within the first year. Additionally, if both parents work in the EPF domain, the reduced working hours mentioned above can be shared between them.

There are other provisions for adoption, illness of young children, etc. Consult the laws for more details. Sorry for the heteronormative language—that’s just how the laws are phrased (in French) and I didn’t want to introduce inaccuracies.

(RS 172.220.113 arts. 37–37b, Maternity – EPFL HR, Pregnancy, maternity, paternity, breastfeeding – EPFL Community & Support)

Remote work

No academic discussion of vacations is complete without mentioning remote work… “Teleworking is neither a right nor an obligation” per the rules. Talk with your supervisor to see what agreement you can come to. Usually, these agreements can stay informal and flexible, as long as you and your supervisor are on the same page. If you really want to know the rules to a tee, see the sources below.

(LEX 4.1.8 en/fr)