Swiss employee associations are not opposed to a 60 hour week. Several parliamentary initiatives aim to loosen Swiss labour rules. The first aims to allow staff and employers more flexibility regarding hours worked and time off. The second aims to loosen rules on recording hours of work by managers and specialists. Another initiative aims to extend this to include employees with shareholdings in start-ups.
Employee associations think flexible hours across the course of a year could work if capped at 60 hours a week and 15 hours a day. “We are offering this to economic commission of the Council of States (Switzerland’s Upper House) to get the discussion going” said Daniel Jositsch, president of the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees.
The association recognises that the current system of working no more than 45 hours per week is too restrictive. It thinks rules allowing for 60-hour-a-week peaks, provided the annual average is 45, are acceptable. Daily time off work could be reduced to 8 hours provided the average is 11 hours over four weeks.
The proposed rules would apply only to around 15% to 20% of white collar workers.
“If I have a presentation to give on Monday morning, banning work at the weekend doesn’t help me prepare for it. We need to accommodate this reality” said Daniel Jositsch.
Not everything is open for discussion however. A survey of 1,281 people by the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees found 70% did not want to work on Sundays.
And not everyone supports the proposed changes. Unions are firmly opposed to them and concerned about employees’ health and salaries.
Meanwhile next door in France, President Emanuel Macron yesterday unveiled plans to loosen France’s labour laws. The reform makes no direct reference to France’s 35-hour week but gives employers more flexibility to negotiate deals with employees to work around it, according to Reuters.