Covid restrictions see Swiss working hours fall even further

Switzerland regularly ranks among the wealthiest countries, per capita, in the world. As wages continue on a long term upwards trajectory, the average number of working hours are falling.

An alarm clock ticks. The Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010.
The Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010. (Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash)

According to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office (OFS) this month, the Swiss are working significantly less now than in 2010. 

To mitigate for the effect of Covid-19, the study analysed two key periods: 2010-2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2010-2020 (which includes the impact of the pandemic). 

It found that Swiss residents were working 3.9 percent fewer hours less in 2019 compared to 2010. Factoring the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, the figures showed that there was a 7.2 percent decrease in working hours (approximately 14 days) in 2020 compared to 2010. 

READ ALSO: Salaries in Switzerland: In which sectors have wages increased the most?

In a report published by the statisticians, the reduction in working hours is due to a variety of factors, including the rise of part-time work, an increase in holidays taken, and a decline in overtime. 

Strikingly, the figures showed that the pre-pandemic decline in working hours was significantly larger for men (5.2 percent) than for women (1.1 percent). 

Covid-19 restrictions led to a further decrease in working hours on certain kinds of economic activity and consequent unemployment.

Hospitality and restaurant sectors were worst affected, with workers seeing an average reduction in working hours of 22.2 percent from 2019-2020. 

The OECD’s latest forecast summary for Switzerland, conducted in May 2021, projected relatively low GDP growth (3.2 percent in 2021 and 2.9 percent in 2022) compared to some of the country’s neighbours, including France. This growth, according to the organisation, can only be achieved with the easing of Covid-19 containment measures. 

How does Switzerland compare to other European countries?

Pre-pandemic, Switzerland had one of Europe’s steepest decline in working hours since 2010, behind Slovakia, Croatia, Malta, Slovenia and Estonia. But the country did far surpass the EU average decline (2.4 percent) during the 2010-19 period. 

READ ALSO Working remotely from Switzerland: What are the rules for foreigners?

Perhaps due to flexible remote working arrangements and other measures, the decline of working hours from 2019-20, as the pandemic took hold in Switzerland, was not as high in Switzerland as in many other European countries.

During this period, several European countries saw a steeper decline in working hours than in Switzerland (3.4 percent), including Italy (9.1 percent), Austria (7.2 percent), France (7.2 percent), Spain (6.5 percent) and Germany (3.7 percent), as well as 11 other nations.

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland