Home| Sitemap| Contact| FAQ

Main Language: DE   FR   IT   EN
Fallback Language: DE   FR   IT        

Regulation of working hours

Regulation of working hours

Working hours

Working hours refer to the actual time spent working per day, week, month or year. They must be defined or, at the very least, definable. Working hours are based on an individual, standard or collective employment contract, or on business practice. They must, however, comply with the protective regulations of the Employment Act, namely those provisions governing maximum weekly working hours, breaks and days off as well as day, evening, night and Sunday work.

Contractual overtime

Contractual overtime is considered to be time spent working in excess of the agreed or usual working hours, or of the working hours set out in a standard or collective employment contract. Contractual overtime must be compensated. If both parties consent, this may take the form of time off in lieu (TOIL) of at least the same duration. Alternatively, either party may request that contractual overtime be compensated through regular pay plus a 25% supplement. Legal basis: Art. 321c, Art. 361 of the Code of Obligations (CO).

Statutory overtime

Statutory overtime is a term used in (public) occupational health and safety law. The Employment Act limits the maximum weekly working hours of industrial workers, office staff, technical and other personnel as well as salespeople in large retail firms to 45 hours. All other workers are limited to 50 working hours per week. In certain exceptional cases, these maximum working hours may be exceeded within a defined scope. Working hours exceeding the maximum limit are referred to as statutory overtime.

Similar to contractual overtime, statutory overtime may be compensated through time off in lieu (TOIL) within an appropriate period of time, subject to the worker's consent. Otherwise, it must be compensated through regular pay plus a supplement of no less than 25%. Unlike contractual overtime, the pay provision for statutory overtime is compulsory, giving the worker a corresponding entitlement in relation to their employer.

Legal basis: Art. 12, 13 of the Employment Act (EmpA), Art. 25, 26 of Employment Ordinance 1 (EmpO 1) and Art. 342 (2) of the Code of Obligations (CO).

Breaks and time records

Breaks refer to time spent away from work duties in order to rest, eat or pursue leisure activities. Workers may leave work premises during breaks.

Working hours Minimum break
over 5.5 hours 15 min.
over 7 hours 30 min.
over 9 hours 60 min.

Breaks must be given about halfway through the shift. Breaks of 60 minutes or more may be split, although the primary break halfway through the shift must be at least 30 minutes long.

Working time, rest periods and breaks must be recorded. Employers must record the following data for each worker on a daily basis: start of work, end of work and the time and duration of breaks lasting 30 minutes or longer. Time records must be retained for five years.

Business days and Sundays

Monday through Saturday are considered as business days. Because Sundays are considered as non-business days, work on Sundays requires authorisation (see “Authorisation” for more information).

Day and evening work

Day and evening work does not require authorisation. If workers consent, a business may move the period during which day and evening work takes place one hour earlier or later than the usual period from 6am to 11pm (17 hours). A worker's day and evening work, including breaks, must fall within a 14-hour period, corresponding to no more than 12.5 hours of actual work.


Authorisation is required for work at night or on Sundays. Undertakings where work at night or on Sundays is necessary, such as power plants, kiosks, bakeries, campgrounds, television stations and the like, are defined in Ordinance 2 of the Employment Act and do not require official authorisation. Temporary authorisation (e.g. for three months) is granted at cantonal level, while permanent authorisation (e.g. for several years) is granted at the federal level by SECO.

Minimum holiday entitlement

By law, workers up to their 20th birthday are entitled to five weeks of paid annual holiday, while all other workers are entitled to four weeks (Art. 329a, 329c of the Code of Obligations, CO). At least two weeks of holiday must be taken consecutively. Additional holiday entitlement may be agreed in an individual employment contract or an applicable standard or collective employment contract.