Covid restrictions see Swiss working hours fall even further

An alarm clock ticks. The Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010.
The Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010. (Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash)
Switzerland regularly ranks among the wealthiest countries, per capita, in the world. As wages continue on a long term upwards trajectory, the average number of working hours are falling.

According to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office (OFS) this month, the Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010. 

To mitigate for the effect of Covid-19, the study analysed two key periods: 2010-2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2010-2020 (which includes the impact of the pandemic). 

It found that Swiss residents were working 3.9 percent fewer hours less in 2019 compared to 2010. Factoring the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, the figures showed that there was a 7.2 percent decrease in working hours (approximately 14 days) in 2020 compared to 2010. 

READ ALSO: Salaries in Switzerland: In which sectors have wages increased the most?

In a report published by the statisticians, the reduction in working hours is due to a variety of factors, including the rise of part-time work, an increase in holidays taken, and a decline in overtime. 

Strikingly, the figures showed that the pre-pandemic decline in working hours was significantly larger for men (5.2 percent) than for women (1.1 percent). 

Covid-19 restrictions led to a further decrease in working hours on certain kinds of economic activity and consequent unemployment.

Hospitality and restaurant sectors were worst affected, with workers seeing an average reduction in working hours of 22.2 percent from 2019-2020. 

The OECD’s latest forecast summary for Switzerland, conducted in May 2021, projected relatively low GDP growth (3.2 percent in 2021 and 2.9 percent in 2022) compared to some of the country’s neighbours, including France. This growth, according to the organisation, can only be achieved with the easing of Covid-19 containment measures. 

How does Switzerland compare to other European countries?

Pre-pandemic, Switzerland had one of Europe’s steepest decline in working hours since 2010, behind Slovakia, Croatia, Malta, Slovenia and Estonia. But the country did far surpass the EU average decline (2.4 percent) during the 2010-19 period. 

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Perhaps due to flexible remote working arrangements and other measures, the decline of working hours from 2019-20, as the pandemic took hold in Switzerland, was not as high in Switzerland as in many other European countries.

During this period, several European countries saw a steeper decline in working hours than in Switzerland (3.4 percent), including Italy (9.1 percent), Austria (7.2 percent), France (7.2 percent), Spain (6.5 percent) and Germany (3.7 percent), as well as 11 other nations.


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