Last year, Christmas and Swiss national day (1 August) fell on weekends. Switzerland’s unions are calling for compensation for these “lost” holidays, reports the newspaper 20 Minutes.
In Switzerland, when public holidays fall on weekends no extra day off or extra pay is provided by employers. Swiss unions are calling for these missed holidays to be added to annual leave. 80 countries have such a system, including England, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. Unions are also pushing for 1 May to be added to the list of public holidays.
Some companies do compensate employees for these lost days off, however, there is no statutory requirement for employers to do so in Switzerland.
Attempts have been made in Bern to change the system but the Federal Council has not been persuaded.
Making 1 May, a day associated with the international labour movement, a public holiday remains politically controversial across parts of Switzerland. Eight cantons, including Basel-City, Basel-Landschaft, Jura, Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Ticino and Zurich celebrate it. While Solothurn and Aargau take the afternoon off. In Switzerland’s other 16 cantons 1 May is a work day if it falls during the working week.
A risk with adding extra days off is that it may reduce salaries over the long run. If employees spend less time on the job employers may drag their feet on future salary rises. This same argument is used to undermine the concept of a 30 hour week (instead of a 40 hours). If employers’ output falls in line with the reduced hours worked then the money spent on staff may fall with it. Hourly wages may hold up but salaries might not. At the same time, a rise productivity from more energetic employees or advances in technology may pick up the slack leaving salaries largely unaffected.