Overtime is regulated by employment law. Workers must only work overtime on an exceptional basis. 

Overtime means work carried out beyond the working hours determined by the employment contract or by a collective bargaining agreement. In principle, workers must complete only the work agreed contractually. They are required to work overtime only on an exceptional basis, in the following circumstances:

  • The overtime is necessary, for example, when an urgent deadline needs to be met and when extra staff are not available.
  • The worker does not suffer any physical and psychological overwork.
  • The requirements are reasonable.
  • The law on employment is respected, notably the maximum duration of a working week.

Maximum working hours

In Switzerland, normal working hours are between 40 and 44 hours per week. The maximum weekly working hours provided for by law are 45 hours for workers in industrial companies and for office staff, technical staff and other employees, including the sales staff of major retail companies. The limit is 50 hours for other employees. The law only authorizes longer working hours for certain jobs such as taxi drivers or assistant doctors and also in certain specific circumstances.

Compensation for overtime

The worker must be compensated for overtime in the following cases:

  • This overtime has been expressly ordered by the employer;
  • This overtime was not expressly ordered but proves necessary or the worker has been able to consider it necessary in good faith.

It is however possible to exclude compensation by written contract. If this is not the case, this is done in the form of a salary payment, with compensation of at least 25% added in the form of leave of a duration at least equivalent or in another form provided for contractually.

Hours worked beyond the statutory maximum working hours are called “additional work”. The law makes a clear distinction between overtime and additional work, compensation for the latter being mandatory in most cases.


Last modification 27.02.2020

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