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Commuting workers in Switzerland can now be paid for work done on the train

Commuting workers in Switzerland can now be paid for work done on the train
Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Do you commute to and from your place of work? This law change, which has already taken effect as of January 2020, now makes it much easier for some employees to be paid for the work they do on the train.

These days it’s a common sight. Trains full of commuters, disposable coffee cups in hand, typing away furiously on their laptops as they try to get a head start on the day’s work. 

For the almost 40,000 people who work for the Swiss government, new rules mean all it takes is a tick of approval from a manager – and time spent working while commuting will be counted as on the clock. 

The laws came into effect from January 1st, 2020 pursuant to the Mobile Forms of Work in Federal Administration Directive. The Directive was passed in response to pressure from the relevant union, who complained that staff were frequently only being paid for part of the work they completed 

While previously some government workers were eligible to be paid while working during the morning commute, this was comparatively rare and usually involved navigating plenty of red tape. 

Approximately eight percent of federal workers are currently paid for work done during their commute. 

The Federal Statistical Office estimates that the average worker in Switzerland spends over an hour (62 minutes) commuting to work per day. 

READ MORE: How the new Léman Express train link will ease Geneva's traffic woes 

According to the Tages Anzeiger, all federal workers need to simply gain approval from their manager and all work done during the commute will be “fully paid”. 

A spokesperson for the federal government told the newspaper that the move reflected a need to incorporate greater flexibility into working conditions. 

“With this directive we are ensuring that mobile forms of work are implemented uniformly in the federal administration. There is a great need for more flexibility in the forms of work”

With its high cost of living, commuting from neighbouring countries into Switzerland for work is considerably popular. 

More than 325,000 foreign workers commuted over the border into Switzerland in 2019, with 85,100 people coming to Geneva from France, 67,800 crossing the border from Italy to Ticino and 33,700 coming from Germany and France to Basel, as the city straddles French and German borders.

READ: Record number of foreign workers commute to Switzerland from abroad 

Under the law, only government workers are eligible – with private sector workers needing to discuss similar conditions with their employer. 

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