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

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.

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
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

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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For members


Teachers to tech: What wages you can expect to earn in Switzerland

Switzerland is known for the high salaries paid to employees in most industries. Here's a closer look at what you can expect to earn.

Teachers to tech: What wages you can expect to earn in Switzerland

Switzerland’s high wages have been a magnet for foreign workers for many years, including for some 300,000 cross-border commuters whose Swiss jobs typically pay more than double of what they would earn for the same positions in their own countries.

This is an overview of how much people earn in certain sectors in Switzerland and how these wages compare with those paid in other nations.

Let’s begin with teachers.

As the school year has just started in most cantons, Watson news portal has released the most recent wages paid to Swiss teachers at various levels.

This data was culled from teachers’ organisations throughout the country.

These are some of the findings:

The median annual salary for kindergarten teachers ranges from 74,737 Swiss francs for new teachers, to 112,976 francs for more seasoned ones.

At the primary-school level, the lowest rate is 78, 435 francs and the highest 117 936 francs. In secondary schools, wages range from 90,787 francs  to 136,966 francs.

The highest pay scale (103,250 francs) is at the higher-professional level.

Regionally, Zurich pays highest salaries to teachers at all levels of the educational system, with Geneva in the second place at most levels. This follows the general trend of salaries across all sectors, where wages are the highest in densely-populated, industrialised areas.

On the other hand, teachers earn the least in eastern Switzerland and Ticino, depending on levels.

You can find more detailed per-canton information, including how teacher salaries have increased over the years here.

READ MORE: What do teachers earn in Switzerland – and where do they earn the most?

How to these wages compare to those earned by teachers across Europe?

The difficulties with different statistics is that they are measured using variable criteria, so the results will vary from one source to another.

In a global survey by the EU statistics site, Statista, Switzerland ranks in the third place for teachers income, below Luxembourg and Germany, but ahead of another high-income country, Norway.

However, only wages at upper-secondary schools were taken into account in this survey, rather than overall salaries.

Salaries in other sectors

A good overview of how much people in Switzerland earn in various industries comes from a report from released in March 2022 by the Federal Statistics Office and reported by The Local.

With an average monthly gross income of 6,555 francs, Switzerland has the highest average salary in Europe.

Around one in ten Swiss residents are considered ‘low wage earners’, which means they take home less than two thirds of the median wage each month (4,443 francs). 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, average salaries in the finance industry — 10,211 francs —per month are the highest of any sector. They are followed by workers in the pharmaceutical sector (10,040 francs), followed by 9,200 francs for those in IT. 

At the lower end of the spectrum, workers in hospitality earn 4,479 francs per month and those in the retail sector make 4,997 francs per month. 

The lowest wage category in Switzerland is the ‘personal services sector’, which includes hairdressers, beauticians and undertakers. Workers in that category earn 4,211 francs per month before tax. 

Jobs in the middle of the pack with averages reflecting the national median include the healthcare sector (6,821 francs) and manufacturing (7,141 francs). 

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland

International comparison

How does the average monthly gross income of 6,555 francs compare to other nations?

Looking at neighbouring countries only, the median monthly salary in Germany is 4,100 euros (3,931 francs at the current exchange rate); 2,340 euros (2,245.50 francs) in France; 2,333 euros in Italy (2,238 francs); and 2,182 euros in Austria (2,238 francs).

These wages are much lower than in Switzerland, but so is the cost of living in those countries

On the other hand, average wages are higher than Switzerland’s neighbours in Norway (44.150 kroner per month — 5,694 francs — 44,514  kroner in Denmark (5,694 francs), 46,000 kroner in Sweden (4,154 francs), and 4,910 euros (4,710 francs) in Luxembourg.

READ MORE : Do wages in Switzerland make up for the high cost of living?