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Should Switzerland implement a four-day work week?

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Should Switzerland implement a four-day work week?
Would you be in favour of a four-day work week in Switzerland? Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Belgium has implemented a four-day work week. Could a similar system work in Switzerland?


The move towards flexible work hours and conditions, i.e. working from home, was accelerated by the Covid pandemic. 

After years of talk, Belgium has put in place a right to a four-day work week. 

The law was passed on Friday and will soon come into effect. In making the announcement, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said it would allow Belgians to decide whether they wanted to have three days off per week or the existing two. 

The law does not however result in a net decrease in working hours. People will instead work longer hours over the other four days, thereby allowing them to take a day off. 


Would such a change work in Switzerland? 

The idea has won support in Switzerland, with politicians from various parties saying workplace hours should reflect contemporary conditions. 

Samira Marti, of the National Council, told 20 Minutes “movement in this direction is definitely needed in Switzerland”. 

Marti however said she disagreed with the Belgian proposal, saying “working hours need to be reduced” rather than distributed over fewer days. 

While improvements in technology and production led to shorter working hours in previous generations, Marti said at present they mostly go to investors. 

“That needs to change”. 

Regula Rytz, of the Greens, agreed, saying many of the benefits of a change in work hours would be eroded if the hours were simply worked on different days. 

“Without reducing working hours, the four-day week leads to stress and overload. More flexible models are needed so that wage work can be better combined with family and volunteer work.”

"The advance in productivity must finally lead to a relief for employees."


‘Questionable’: Psychologists doubt if scheme is truly beneficial

Nicola Jacobshagen, a work psychologist, told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes it was not clear the change would actually benefit employers. 

“If the working day is two hours longer, we have to concentrate on our work even longer and there is no time to relax after work, which is incredibly important. It is questionable whether we can keep it going four days a week,” she said. 

Swiss economists have also been critical of the Belgian plan, saying businesses rather than the state should make decisions regarding working hours. 

"Companies must be able to decide for themselves when their employees are more productive, that's not the job of the state,” said economist Reiner Eichenberger. 

Would you be in favour of a four-day work week? What if it meant working longer hours on those days? Let us know. 



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