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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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Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

A Swiss organisation has once more called for volunteer shepherds to scare wolves away from sheep and other farm animals, including making 'wolf-scaring noises'.

Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

A series of wolf attacks against sheep and other farm animals have been reported in various cantons, particularly in the French-speaking part of the country. 

To keep this from happening, Vaud and Valais shepherds are training, in cooperation with the Organisation for the Protection of Alpine Pastures (OPPAL), a number of civilian volunteers to watch over herds of livestock at night, when wolves are most likely to pounce.

The approach is a more humane way to keep wolves at bay, say those who take part in the program. 

Véronique Marmet, an OPPAL volunteer, explained.

“I understand the problem of the wolf, that’s why I support this approach. We are more (interested) in the compromise than the fight.”

This is a continuation of a project launched by OPPAL in 2021, when trained volunteers were taught how to make wolf-scaring noises to keep predators at bay. 

The volunteers spent a total of 8,000 hours monitoring the mountain pastures in 2021. Their work paid off, as despite several wolf sightings, no attacks actually occurred. 

One hundred volunteers were found in 2021, with OPPAL looking to double that number this year. 

READ MORE: Swiss association seeks volunteers to scare wolves away at night

The topic of wolves is surprisingly political in Switzerland. 

In 2020, a narrow majority – 51.9 percent of Swiss voters – rejected a bid to change Swiss law which would have given cantons a greater degree of power to cull wolf populations in Switzerland. 

The wolf was completely wiped out in Switzerland in the mid-1980s but saw a resurgence, with an estimated 80 present in Switzerland as at 2019, most of which are in the French-speaking west of the country.