Swiss politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

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Swiss politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced
Zurich is one of the few Swiss cantons to give people a holiday on May 1st, although not in 2022. Photo by Tomas Jerabek on Unsplash

Unlike in many other countries, public holidays which fall on a weekend disappear completely. With 2022 particularly hard hit, some in Switzerland are demanding a UK-style change.


This weekend, May 1st - the global celebration of workers winning valuable and sometimes life-saving rights - falls on a Sunday, which means Switzerland’s workers will not receive a holiday in recognition. 

In fact, 2022 is not a great year for public holidays. New Year’s day was already lost to a weekend this year, while Christmas Day will also fall on a Sunday.

11 Swiss cantons have a holiday on May 1st, although none of these will be carried over to a working day in 2022. 

Which Swiss cantons have a public holiday on May 1st?

Several union representatives as well as Swiss politicians have called for a change in the rules. 

In total, 85 countries from all across the globe provide a compensation day if a day off falls on the weekend, including Belgium, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, Spain, Australia and Thailand. 

Switzerland’s unions have called for holidays on weekends to be carried over. 


Luca Cirigliano from the Swiss Confederation of Trade Unions told 20 Minutes such a change should be a priority. 

"We demand that public holidays that fall on a non-working Saturday or Sunday must be granted," Syna Union Vice President Mandy Zeckra said on Tuesday. 

Zeckra said all Union employees receive a day off in lieu when a holiday falls on a weekend.  

Sibel Arslan (Greens), a member of the National Council, said the economy cannot function without workers. 

She told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that Labour Day should be a nationwide holiday and that Switzerland was “throwing employees blindly into a hamster wheel”. 

Another Green politician, Katharina Prelicz-Huber, told 20 Minutes she supported the move. 

READ MORE: Why dancing is banned on public holidays in Switzerland

Arslan formally asked Switzerland’s governing Federal Council in March of 2021 for public holidays which fall on a weekend to be carried over but was rebuffed. 

Then President Guy Parmelin rebuffed her approach, saying the Federal Council was not open to changing the law. 

The efforts have also seen resistance from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. 

SVP councillor Barbara Steinemann said “there are people who are always looking for a reason not to work."

Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter from Die Mitte told 20 Minutes “we have other problems right now,” while party colleague Leo Müller was against the idea of replacing holidays completely. 


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