Swiss trade unions seek compensation for weekend holidays

Last year, Christmas and Switzerland’s National Foundation Day (August 1st) were weekends. Swiss trade unions are seeking compensation for these “lost” holidays, newspaper 20 Minutes reports.

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In Switzerland, employers do not offer additional holidays or additional salaries if the holiday falls on a weekend. Swiss trade unions are calling for these missed holidays to be added to annual leave. Eighty countries, including England, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, have adopted such a system. The union is also promoting the addition of May 1st to the list of holidays.

Some companies compensate their employees for these lost holidays, but in Switzerland there are no statutory requirements for employers to do this.

Attempts have been made to change the system in Bern, but the Federal Council has not been persuaded.

Holidays are politically controversial throughout Switzerland as we approach May 1, a day related to the international labor movement. Eight cantons including Basel City, Baselland Shaft, Jura, Neuchatel, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Ticino and Zurich celebrate. Solothurn and Aargau rest in the afternoon. In the other 16 cantons of Switzerland, if May 1 is a working week, it is a working day.

The risk of adding a holiday is that your salary may drop in the long run. If employees spend less time on their jobs, employers may be at a loss for future salary increases. This same argument is used to undermine the concept of 30 hours a week (rather than 40 hours). If an employer’s production is consistent with reduced working hours, the money spent on staff can be reduced accordingly. Hourly wages may hold up, but salaries may not. At the same time, higher productivity and technological advances by more energetic employees can regain slack in salaries with little impact.

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