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Working hours

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Working hours (Arbeitsstunden, heures de travail) in Switzerland vary with the employer, your position and the industry in which you're employed, the average being around 41 hours per week. Under Swiss employment law, normal working hours should be a maximum of 45 hours per week. Employees in industry work around 40 hours per week, while workers in the service sector, such as banking, generally work slightly longer hours (around 42 per week). Employees in hospitals, catering and hotels, however, may work up to 60 hours per week, although the average is between 45 and 48. Whatever your working hours in Switzerland, they may be longer than you're used to working. Of the leading industrial nations, to pregnant women (pregnant men receive the Nobel Prize for medicine!) only the Japanese and Americans work longer.

Around ten cantons pay a birth allowance of from CHF 600 to 1,500. In 2005, the Swiss introduced state maternity insurance which pays working mothers 80 per cent of their average salary for 14 weeks after giving birth. To qualify, women must have been insured for 9 months before the birth and gainfully employed for at least five months during this time. Benefits (maximum CHF 196 per day) are paid by the Erwerbsersatzordnung (Ausgleichskasse, Caisse de compensation) - the fund that pays the salary of Swiss men when doing military service (maximum CHF 245 per day).

Pregnant and nursing mothers cannot be required to work overtime and cannot be given notice during their pregnancy or the 16 weeks after a birth unless this falls during the probation period, in which case she can be made redundant. You cannot (by law) return to work during the eight weeks after delivery and you can choose to stay at home for another eight weeks.

Sick Leave

You're usually required to notify your employer as soon as possible of sickness or an accident that prevents you from working. If you're away from work for longer than two or three days, you may be required to produce a doctor's certificate. The period is stated in your general terms of employment. Your salary insurance policy will determine how much money you receive while unable to work.

Compassionate Leave

Most Swiss companies provide additional days off for moving house, your own or a family marriage, the birth of a child, the death of a family member or close relative, and other important events. Grounds for compassionate leave (Sonderurlaub, conge special) should be listed in your general employment terms.

[Hampshire, David. (2015). Working Hours. In Living and Working in Switzerland (15th ed., pp. 35, 36, 38). Bath: Survival Books.]

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Salary and Benefits

Your salary (Salär/Gehalt, salaire) is stated in your contract, where salary reviews, planned increases and cost of living rises may also be covered. Only general points, such as the payment of your salary into a bank account and the date of salary payments, are usually included in an employer's general terms. If the salary payment day varies each month, your employer may provide you with a list of payment dates. Salaries are usually paid earlier in December.


Accident insurance (Unfallversicherung, assurance accidents) is mandatory for all employees in Switzerland. Occupational accident insurance is paid by your employer and covers accidents or illness at work, and accidents that occur when travelling to and from work or when travelling on company business.