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Swiss work culture

Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone

People in full-time posts work an average of 41 hours and 10 minutes a week in Switzerland; but an increasing number choose to work less, often for family reasons.

While a 41-hour week is the norm across Switzerland (excluding the self-employed), legally, the maximum number of working hours per week is 45 for employees working in “industry, office staff, technical and other employees, sales personnel in large retailing firms” and 50 hours for everyone else. These limits are rigidly adhered to.

A job offered at 90% typically means two days off a month (work nine out of ten workdays). A 50% position could mean two days of work one week, followed by three the next. Exactly how the time is divided up can be determined between the employer and employee.

Work ethics

There is a great tradition of craftsmanship and workmanship, and sloppiness is frowned upon. Young people also come to subscribe to these attitudes.

Strikes are rare in Switzerland. Antagonism between workers and management, where it exists, is often kept within bounds.

Punctuality is important. Being late, even by just a few minutes, can be regarded as bad form.

Gender equality

Switzerland is still a male-dominated working world. Women are more likely to have a traditional role of stay-at-home mothers, though this is changing. But North Americans in particular will not fail to be surprised at the frequent separation of the sexes in the working world: men in industry, women in service roles.

Top management is still pretty much a man’s domain. Many company executive boards have no female representation.

Flex time

Flexible work time has become the norm in industrial and commercial life, which means that you often clock in and out but you can decide independently your time of arrival and departure. Still, Swiss people tend to be early risers, and most people begin their working day early, between 7am and 8am.


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR