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Should Switzerland implement a four-day work week?

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

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

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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What’s the outlook for the Swiss job market this autumn?

The prospects of finding a job in Switzerland towards the end of 2022 are promising, especially in certain sectors, a new study has shown.

What's the outlook for the Swiss job market this autumn?

The outlook for the Swiss labor market will say positive towards the end of 2022 even with a worsening of the overall economic outlook, according to Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS.

Most sectors are recruiting, with the exception of finance, insurance and real estate, a new survey of 500 employers revealed.

However jobseekers with certain qualifications or experience are more in demand than others.

“Among the top 10 qualifications sought after are recycling and waste management, ecosystem and biodiversity management, human resources and cybersecurity,” said Jan Jacob, the head of Manpower Switzerland

According to the survey 500 employers carried out in August with 500 employers, 36 percent of companies said they plan to hire in the fourth quarter, while 16 percent plan to reduce their workforce. Some 42 percent of those companies surveyed see no change in staff levels in the coming months.

All Swiss regions reported positive job prospects, with particularly high scores in Ticino  and Central Switzerland.

But 24 percent of companies surveyed in the Geneva region and 14 percent Zurich said they were planning to recruit.

“Considering that the survey was conducted in the context of geopolitical and economic risks, the war in Ukraine and the consequences of the pandemic, the hiring outlook is still positive,” Jacob said.