More Swiss employees working on holidays

Swiss supermarkets Migros and Coop each make "dozens" of authorisation requests to SECO each year for work on weekends and public holidays, the Sonntagszeitung reported. © KEYSTONE / GAETAN BALLY

The Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported Sunday that the number of authorisations granted for businesses to employ workers on weekends and public holidays in Switzerland has risen 30% over the last three years.

This content was published on December 23, 2018

Swiss businesses wishing to have employees work on weekends or holidays must obtain special authorisation from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The number of such authorisations granted has increased 30% over the last three years, the German-language paper found, surpassing 2,000. More than 800 of these requests were made specifically for work during Christmas.

Altogether in 2018, the authorisations granted to work on public holidays concerned some 70,000 individual jobs. These figures include only regular, multi-year permission requests and not short-term exceptions.

"In recent years, the number of requests for grants for holiday work has risen constantly," SECO confirmed to the Sonntagszeitung. It added that there are several reasons for the increase, such as the fact that consumer needs continue even through the holiday season, as well as economic and logistical requirements of companies.

"There is a need for both the production companies and the logistics companies to meet the increased demand of consumers for fresh products on Sundays and public holidays," a spokesperson for Swiss supermarket chain Migros told the newspaper.

Holidays also differ across Swiss cantons, so Swiss businesses as well as branches of international companies often apply for exemptions so that their employees in different cantons can still work together.

However, some are sceptical of the move toward more work during what has traditionally been family time in Switzerland. Arnaud Bouverat of Swiss trade union Unia told the Sonntagszeitung that holiday work for jobs beyond essential services, like nursing and public transport operation, is unnecessary.

"Many areas do not need Sunday work. Some of them do anyway because there is no reliable control," Bouverat said, citing retail as an example.

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