Swiss work week remains little changed

Full-time workers in Switzerland worked an average of 41 hours and 23 minutes per week last year, according to new figures based on a survey from the federal statistics office.

Swiss work week remains little changed
Photo: AFP

The time spent is virtually unchanged from 2007 — actually one minute longer, according to a report from the office released on Monday.

The figures indicate that full-time Swiss employees have work weeks that are close to the average for the European Union.

 Numbers from the UK’s Office of National Statistics from 2011 showed full-time workers in Austria and Greece put in the longest weeks in the EU at around 43.7 hours, followed by those in the UK (42.7 hours).

Denmark had the shortest week with an average of 39.1 weeks.

The Swiss statistics show that the contractual period of work fell by two minutes in 2012 to 41 hours and 47 minutes from 2007.

This figure is different from the actual number of hours worked because it includes the average period of weekly absences (1 hour, 34 minutes, down by a minute) offset by overtime (one hour, 11 minutes, up two minutes).

According to a survey of the population, the average length of annual holidays for full-time workers increased from 4.9 weeks in 2007 to five weeks in 2012.

The tendency over the past 15 years has been for longer holiday periods in Switzerland, the statistics office said.

Average annual holidays in 1996 were 4.6 weeks, the office said.

The oldest full-time workers, those aged 50 to 64, enjoyed the longest holidays (5.5 weeks in 2012), compared to 4.8 weeks for those aged 20 to 49.

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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier