Recording working hours: an obligation for employers

While the line between private life and work life is becoming increasingly blurred for employees, recording employee working hours is mandatory for employers. Here is an overview of the statutory framework.

Each employer has a legal obligation to document its employees’ working hours. The legal basis can be found in Art. 46 of the Employment Law (LTr) and Article 73 of Order 1 on the Employment Law. Companies must therefore be able to document the daily and weekly working hours of their employees, including compensatory work and overtime. The employer must also calculate the worker’s days off, whether weekly or compensatory, along with breaks of half an hour or longer.

The breakdown of hours worked by employees must be retained by the company for a period of five years. In the event of infringement of this rule, several penalties are possible, ranging from a warning to a fine. In the most extreme cases of infringements of employment law, namely when employees’ lives or health are at risk, the law even provides for closing the company down.

Exceptions and new regulations

Some professions are excluded from the provisions relating to working hours and time off, or even not affected at all by employment law. The regulation of working hours does not apply to the following professional groups:

  • Artists
  • Clergy
  • Air travel crews
  • Business travelers
  • Employees of agricultural companies

Neither do the provisions relating to recording working hours apply to executives or project managers, i.e. individuals “with decision-making power over the company’s essential issues”. However, this applies only if they are involved in the company’s key decisions and organize their working hours autonomously.

Two other exceptions have been in force since January 1, 2016, the objective being to adapt to the increasing flexibility of working hours and also to the increase in employee mobility.

1. The recording of working hours is completely abolished for employees earning a salary subject to AVS of more than CHF 120,000 (including bonuses) and enjoying flexibility in their working hours. This complete removal must be agreed within the context of a collective bargaining agreement (for the company or the sector) and must form the subject of a written agreement by each employee. This exemption is set out in the new Article 73a OLT 1.
N.B. If an employee works Sundays or at night, recording of the start and end of the working day is still mandatory.

2. A partial or simplified recording, with only the total daily working hours, is now possible according to Art. 73b OLT 1. This requires:
- a collective agreement between the employer and the workers’ representatives (in-house or external);
- or, in the absence of such representatives, the agreement of the majority of employees;
- or, in companies with fewer than 50 employees, an individual agreement in writing with the employees in question.
This partial exemption is set out in the new Article 73b OLT 1.

Measuring instruments

The law does not define which measuring instruments should be used to document working hours. Companies may use:

  • Electronic or mechanical clocking in and out systems
  • Excel documents
  • Specialized software
  • Mobile applications

Source: SECO, Worker Protection, June 2015


Last modification 26.06.2020

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