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Switzerland - Working Hours

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the standard working hours in Switzerland?

The Swiss working week varies up to 45 hours depending on the employer, the most common being 42 hours. In exceptional cases 50 hours can be regularly worked but this can only apply to certain selected professions.

How many hours can I work in Switzerland?

The maximum overtime that can be worked is generally 170 hours per year, or 140 hours per year for a regular working week above 45 hours. Note that these limits apply in a given year and are not reduced pro-rata for part year contracts. These limits apply to overtime worked, regardless whether it is compensated with time off or paid out.

How many paid holidays do I get in Switzerland?

You are given at least 20 days per complete year (25 days under 25 years old). If you are over 50 most employers also give 25 days. It is anticipated under Swiss law that you should take these holidays, including at least one 2 week block.  If you do not take your full holiday entitlement the untaken days will be paid out to you in addition to your final salary.

Your employer has the say as to when you take holidays. Although they are expected to give you as much flexibility as operationally possible, they can require you to take holiday at a given time if the entire department takes leave in a planned fashion (e.g. on a production line). However you need to be given a few months notice of this or told before you begin your contract.

Can I take extra unpaid holiday in Switzerland?

Sure, as long as your manager agrees. We will just deduct the holiday period from the salary. It is normal for any holiday taken during the probation period to be unpaid.

How is Swiss working time calculated?

Each month in Switzerland employees have to submit a timesheet. We provide an online or excel based timesheet and then a report of time worked (IST) versus target hours for each month (SOLL). Paid leave and allowed absences (like insured time off for sickness or accident) are credited to you in this report.

If your client pays overtime this will be billed and paid. Otherwise you can compensate overtime with time off in lieu. Undertime can usually be compensated with later overtime.

We will inform you of your options should overtime or undertime be worked.

What happens if I am absent due to sickness or accident in Switzerland?

Initially we will pay you your standard monthly salary. Once the insurance company has processed the claim, we will adjust the next payroll by replacing salary with the insurance benefit. The insured hours will be added to your timekeeping report.

How much notice is needed to terminate a Swiss employment contract early?

The minimum notice period allowed in a Swiss employment contract for advanced termination by either party is dependent on the uninterrupted period of employment at the time the notice is given:

*  In the first 3 months = 2 days
*  Up to the end of the 6th month = 7 days
*  Thereafter = 1 month or more, depending on circumstances

Contractual notice periods can be shortened by mutual agreement between client and employee. It is also possible to be dismissed immediately for misconduct but this has to be supported by documented grounds and is thankfully extremely rare in Switzerland.

What are the rules on work breaks and maximum time at work in Switzerland?

Under Swiss Employment law a maximum of 5.5 days are to be worked on a regular basis. Daily time off is a minimum block of 11 hours. Once per week this can be shortened to 8 hours if the average of 11 hours is maintained over two weeks.

If you are taking extended collected days or half days the minimum 11 hours is added to these days i.e. not 24 but 35 hours uninterrupted time off if one whole day off is taken.

Minimum breaks (away from the workplace/desk) must be taken as follows:

*  Up to 5.5 hours = no break required
*  Over 5.5  hours = 15 minutes
*  Over 7 hours = 30 minutes
*  Over 9 hours  = 1 Hour (can be taken in more than one sitting).

Those who fall under the GAV Leasing contract (see our Swiss Payroll FAQ) cannot work longer than 12 hours in any one day or 50 hours in any week.

There are further rules and restrictions in some cases. However you can leave these to us. We will ensure you are working and declaring within legal limits at all times.

Can I work on Sunday and Public Holidays in Switzerland?

You can work voluntarily on Sunday and public holidays without restriction. Voluntary means you are not under pressure to work due to immediate deadlines or required presence. If you work voluntarily the hours add to your timesheet as normal working hours, subject to agreement by the employer if this results in overtime.

If instead, you are required to work more than 5 hours on such a day you must be paid 50% more per hour, and you must take off at least an entire 35 hour period in the previous or following week.

For occasionally required Sunday work above 5 hours your place of work must have a cantonal Sunday Work permit.

If you are contracted to work regular Sundays they can be treated like weekdays but you must take the above mentioned time off and your place of work must have a federal Sunday Work permit.

In short – voluntarily you are free to do so, but otherwise you must check with us in advance.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always interested to know what people are concerned about regarding Swiss employment.

Please note the above information is provided without guarantee or warranty. Employment, tax and pension laws are dependent on your specific situation and can change quickly. To be sure of the facts always contact us directly for a verified up to date answer.