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Under the Swiss Federal Labour Act (1966), an employer must ensure all employees provide a detailed record of their working times. Although it is possible to waive this in some circumstances, lobbying for a further change in legislation is ongoing.

Last revised as recently as 2016, the rules governing recording employees work time are no longer suitable for today’s varied working practices. There are new factors driving the need for a major revision in time-keeping rules.

  • Like many countries, Switzerland has witnessed growth in the number of skilled workers offering their specialist services as contractors. It is estimated that over 25% of workers in Switzerland are now freelancers and this is forecast to grow to as high as 50% this decade. Some of these workers lease their services to one specific client, often working through an employment services company such as Accurity to manage their contracts and payroll. This is linked to emerging HR strategies in companies pursuing flexibility, agility and lower risk by engaging workers on a contractor basis.  A number of these freelancers are often not paid by their client purely on the basis of time, but at least partly on results (e.g. in the form of commissions, bonuses, share options). Many are therefore able to decide largely how much and when they work, and enjoy this flexibility.
  • Since the outbreak of COVID-19, more than half of the global workforce has been working remotely, and a prolonged period of this hybrid working is predicted. Many companies are seeking a “Virtual First” strategy for their staffing policy. This could lead to a trust-based model being accepted by employers, unions and authorities.

Despite the need for a revision of timekeeping rules, the option of not fully documenting work time is still impossible for the labour leasing industry (which in effect employs contractors on behalf of the corporate client). A recent report from Swissstaffing stated “it would not be possible to dispense with recording of working hours of the temporary employee due to a lack of a corresponding legal basis in the federal Collective Bargaining Agreement for Personnel Leasing (GAVP)”.

A recent SECO (State Secretariat for Economic Affairs) directive simplifies the recording of working hours somewhat:

  • Where a staff spokesperson cannot agree with the employer regarding recording of staff hours worked, the majority of the company’s employees are now able to decide how to proceed with the employer.
  • However this only applies to employees who can largely determine their own working hours. General working hours do not have to be documented, but for overtime such as evening or Sunday work, the beginning and end work-times still need to be recorded. This criterium is not well defined and subject to interpretation so employers err on the cautious side to avoid penalties.
  • Simplified recording of working hours can also be allowed in companies with 50 staff or less when agreed individually in writing between the employer and the employee. The number of employees here does not include external (labour leased) employees or contractors.

Although these amendments have gone some way in relaxing the stringent time keeping rules in Switzerland, only a complete revision of the law would address modern day work practices across all industry sectors and positions, including the labour leasing sector.

Accurity is an employment services provider and was founded over 20 years ago. We specialise in employment services for contractors including labour leasing. Since our launch we have worked with over 400 client companies and 3’000 freelancers and contractors from all walks of life. Our team of experts is available to answer all your questions.