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.
Definition of working week
The working week, within the meaning of the law, begins on Monday at midnight (12:00 am) and ends on Sunday at midnight (12:00 am).
Exceptions and new regulations
Certain professions and businesses are excluded from the provisions on working hours and time off (See Capitel 1 OLT 1). These include, for example, the staff of international organizations or agricultural companies.
Provisions relating to the recording of working hours do not apply to employees in “a high management position” either. In other words, people with significant decision-making power or able to strongly influence decisions of major importance to the company.
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.
Service trips abroad
When the worker travels abroad as part of his/her work/activity, the journey (round trip) is considered as working time (art. 13 OLT 1). If all or part of the journey takes place at night or on Sunday, the worker’s occupation is not subject to authorization. A daily rest period of 11 hours must be granted upon return home.
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 and amendment of the Ordinance on the Labor Act of November 2020 (in German).