Swiss enjoy more and more paid annual leave

We're all going on our summer holidays: this year, Italy remains the favourite destination for Swiss tourists. Keystone

Swiss employees have more and more holidays: within a period of 20 years the average annual quota has gone up by half a week.

This content was published on July 2, 2018 - 17:00

Even a 2012 national referendum, which saw two-thirds of voters reject the proposal of increasing statutory leave to six weeks, didn’t stop the trend.

At that time, the reasons for rejecting the people’s initiativeExternal link were mainly economic: business groups feared that accepting the proposal would lead to job losses and would cost the economy billions.

Currently, the legal minimum number of holidays in Switzerland is four weeks (20 days) per year, or five weeks for those under the age of 20. However, contracts – individual or collective – can, and often do, provide for a higher number of annual days. Employees over 50 years of age are often granted more paid leave.

Teachers on top

According to recent dataExternal link (in German) provided by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the average annual figure in Switzerland is now 5.1 weeks – half a week more than when records began, 20 years ago.

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By sector, employees in the “Education and Training” category – especially teachers – enjoy most time off, some 6.3 weeks per year. Transport, finance, public administration, health, and social services employees are also all above average.

By far the least holidays are accorded workers in the agriculture and forestry sectors, just 4.6 weeks each year.

And by international comparison the Swiss don’t do badly, according to researchExternal link by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). While the figure of 20 days statutory annual leave lies somewhere around the average, there are big differences from country to country.

Whereas US employees have no legal minimum annual holidays, other nations have much higher statutory figures than Switzerland, including the UK (28 days) and France (25 days).

Travelling abroad

What do the Swiss do with these holidays? According to the “2018 Holiday Barometer”, published by market research firm Ipsos along with the Europ Assistance insurance group, just one-fifth of Swiss holidaymakers this summer will stay in the country. Around a quarter will go to top destination Italy, while Spain and France also remain popular choices.

The Swiss are also not afraid to fork out for their summer holidays. According to this study, the average Swiss summer holiday budget is CHF3,235 ($3,256), 9% more than last year and 38% more than the European average.

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