Swiss habits For Members

Six things you shouldn't do on a Sunday in Switzerland

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Six things you shouldn't do on a Sunday in Switzerland
Recycling your empty bottles needs to be done in Switzerland. Photo by Aleksandr Kadykov on Unsplash

In Switzerland, Sundays are considered sacred to many and quiet time is strongly encouraged, which means there are certain activities should you avoid - or risk being told off.


Not many things are more irritating than a neighbour whipping out the lawn mower at 8am on a weekend day when you’ve looked forward to a well-earned lie-in all week.

Yet, we’re all guilty of the odd karaoke moment on a Sunday or deciding that little sheep rug in the lounge could do with a round of vacuuming. But what if the disturbances become a habit and extend well into the night?

In Switzerland, residents don’t have to put up with noise as there are a set of regulations for what’s considered acceptable on a Sunday.


Shhhhh – Sundays are for resting

While you are perfectly allowed to activate your weekend mode on Saturdays (though extreme noise is never welcome, because this is Switzerland), come Sunday the Swiss expect everyone – with the exception of newborns - to switch to silent-mode for the entire day. But what exactly counts as a disturbance of one’s peace? Luckily, that’s a bit of a grey zone.

READ ALSO: Six things foreign residents in Switzerland should never do

While the Swiss Code of Obligations states (Article 257f Para. 2) that those renting apartments must show consideration for residents and neighbours, it doesn’t explain what exactly said consideration entails, relying instead on a person’s common sense to decide just what is an appropriate level of noise.

On a wider scale, unwanted noise can include anything from playing instruments, slamming doors during arguments, using a drill for home improvements, or emulating Heidi Klum in some fancy high heels.

Small tip: If you’re set on hosting a party on a Sunday, notify your neighbours first, and good luck – you’ll need it.


Many a household is cleaned on a weekend because let’s face it, not many of us have the time and energy to whip our whole house into shape after a long day’s work. So naturally, we postpone said undertaking to the weekend. But is that allowed?

The answer: not necessarily. While nobody will be taking you to court for choosing to vacuum on a Sunday, it goes back to disturbing your neighbour’s peace, particularly if you happen to live in an apartment complex with poor soundproofing.

The solution? Don’t do it, and if you really must bring out your inner Cinderella on a Sunday, consider buying a quieter vacuum that works at a volume of around 60 to 65 decibels.

Hanging laundry out to dry

Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. One of the best things about having access to a garden in the summer is without a doubt being able to dry your laundry in next to no time (thanks global warming).

According to the homeowners' association, however, deciding to put up a full washing line outside your house or apartment complex is a big no-no as it simply spoils the scenery for everyone else busy trying to relax. You’ve been warned.


Filling the bottle bin....

Switzerland is known for its strict recycling rules as well as its rules for keeping Sunday's quiet so it's no surprise that emptying all your empty beer and wine bottles from Saturday's party into the recycling bin is a big "no no" on a Sunday.

You'll just have to store them until Monday.

READ ALSO: What are Switzerland's strict rules for recycling and waste disposal?

Moving house

This one’s self-explanatory. While many people choose to move house on a weekend day or bank holiday to save on vacation days, doing so on a Sunday is not encouraged as packing, moving heavy furniture, and loading everything into a car with the help of an enthusiastic set of friends can hardly be accomplished in a quiet manner.

Still, while frowned upon, this one’s not forbidden so it is again up to your common sense to decide if Sundays are for moving.

A tip: Sundays 12 pm to 1 pm is considered a rest period, so use that time for a quick lunch instead.

No work


Switzerland’s labour law (Article 18 ArG) dictates that employees mustn’t be employed between Saturday 11pm. and Sunday 11pm

However, there are some exceptions to the ban on Sunday work (Article 19 ArG). If work is urgently required and indispensable, it can in fact be permitted subject to special authorisation and the employee’s consent. Employees will then be entitled to a wage supplement of 50 percent for any work done on a Sunday.

READ ALSO: Can foreign residents ever emulate the Swiss obsession for cleanliness?

Additionally, if your employer insists you work, ensure that you get compensated for any work lasting up to five hours by free time within 4 weeks. Should your Sunday work last longer than five hours, a substitute day of rest of at least 24 hours that falls on a working day must be granted during the preceding or following week – following the daily rest period. This results in a continuous rest period of 35 hours. The substitute rest day must cover the period from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If work must be done on Sunday, the employee may not be employed for more than 6 consecutive days.

However, there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to working on Sundays and especially at night.

Exception to the rule: Employees in the health sector, the hospitality industry, certain shops such as newsstands and bakeries, theatres and cinemas and the media can work on Sundays without the need for authorisation.



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