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How companies in Switzerland are helping employees avoid packed public transport

Various employers in Switzerland are adopting flexible working hours to relieve congestion in public transportation during rush hour and protect their employees against possible Covid-19 infection.

How companies in Switzerland are helping employees avoid packed public transport
Companies want employees to use public transport outside of peak hours. Photo by AFP

According to a report on RTS television, a number of Swiss companies in private and public sector are implementing flexible work hours to help their employees avoid commuting in crowded trains, buses, trams, and metros.

For instance, starting on Monday, the Geneva-based Japan Tobacco International is rolling out new working hours: groups of employees will come to the office every other week, keeping flexibility in the days and hours of presence.

Another company, Société Générale, is allowing its employees to arrive at work until 10:00 am.

People in Switzerland normally work from 8 am until 5 pm.

Public transportation is usually crowded just before the start of the work day and an hour or so after the end of the regular work hours.

READ MORE: Q&A: What impact will Switzerland's mask rule for public transport have?

The University of Lausanne and Federal Polytechnic Institute (EPFL) have also instituted the staggered hours.

According to geographer Julien Lovey, both institutions divided their campuses into three sectors, shifting the start times for classes in each sector by a quarter of an hour.

“This relieves congestion on the M1 metro, which reached saturation points during the morning rush hour”, he said.

This new system “has interesting effects, because you avoid overloading one or two trains, instead spreading passengers over five, six or even seven trains”, he pointed out.

Some cantons are also considering making school hours more flexible for the benefit of students, teachers and parents who use public transport.

From the start of the new school year in Geneva on August 24th, students aged 12 to 15 will start lessons at 8:30 or 8:45 am, instead of 8:00 am, to limit congestion on public transport.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Swiss authorities advised the public not to use public transportation system during peak hours to avoid being infected with — or spreading — the virus. 

At that time, face masks on buses, trains, and trams, were merely ‘recommended’ rather than made obligatory.

However, starting on July 6th, masks on all public transport are mandatory for adults and children over the age of 12.  

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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland

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