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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Swiss politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

Unlike in many other countries, public holidays which fall on a weekend disappear completely. With 2022 particularly hard hit, some in Switzerland are demanding a UK-style change.

Zurich is one of the few Swiss cantons to give people a holiday on May 1st, although not in 2022. Photo by Tomas Jerabek on Unsplash
Zurich is one of the few Swiss cantons to give people a holiday on May 1st, although not in 2022. Photo by Tomas Jerabek on Unsplash

This weekend, May 1st – the global celebration of workers winning valuable and sometimes life-saving rights – falls on a Sunday, which means Switzerland’s workers will not receive a holiday in recognition. 

In fact, 2022 is not a great year for public holidays. New Year’s day was already lost to a weekend this year, while Christmas Day will also fall on a Sunday.

11 Swiss cantons have a holiday on May 1st, although none of these will be carried over to a working day in 2022. 

Which Swiss cantons have a public holiday on May 1st?

Several union representatives as well as Swiss politicians have called for a change in the rules. 

In total, 85 countries from all across the globe provide a compensation day if a day off falls on the weekend, including Belgium, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, Spain, Australia and Thailand. 

Switzerland’s unions have called for holidays on weekends to be carried over. 

Luca Cirigliano from the Swiss Confederation of Trade Unions told 20 Minutes such a change should be a priority. 

“We demand that public holidays that fall on a non-working Saturday or Sunday must be granted,” Syna Union Vice President Mandy Zeckra said on Tuesday. 

Zeckra said all Union employees receive a day off in lieu when a holiday falls on a weekend.  

Sibel Arslan (Greens), a member of the National Council, said the economy cannot function without workers. 

She told Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that Labour Day should be a nationwide holiday and that Switzerland was “throwing employees blindly into a hamster wheel”. 

Another Green politician, Katharina Prelicz-Huber, told 20 Minutes she supported the move. 

READ MORE: Why dancing is banned on public holidays in Switzerland

Arslan formally asked Switzerland’s governing Federal Council in March of 2021 for public holidays which fall on a weekend to be carried over but was rebuffed. 

Then President Guy Parmelin rebuffed her approach, saying the Federal Council was not open to changing the law. 

The efforts have also seen resistance from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. 

SVP councillor Barbara Steinemann said “there are people who are always looking for a reason not to work.”

Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter from Die Mitte told 20 Minutes “we have other problems right now,” while party colleague Leo Müller was against the idea of replacing holidays completely. 

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JOBS

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

Switzerland’s two largest cities and their surrounding areas are where most employment opportunities can be found. This is what you should know about what each of these locations has to offer.

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

While Zurich and Geneva are different in some regards, such as the language spoken there — Swiss-German in the former and French in the latter — the two cities also have some things in common.

For instance, both frequently feature among the most expensive cities to live in various international surveys.

The latest one, carried out by a global mobility organisation, ECA International, found that globally Geneva and Zurich were ranked in the third and seventh place, respectively, in a survey of 20 most expensive cities for international residents.

However, on the European scale, Geneva was placed in top spot and Zurich in third.

But what about their job markets? Where should you look for a job — in Zurich or Geneva?

Your search may depend on personal factors such the area where you already live (or want to live) and the language you speak.

If you are fluent in French but not so much in Swiss German (or high German), then the choice is clear (and vice-versa). Even if English may be the main language in the office, you will still heed to speak local language outside of work.

But if you are open to moving wherever good job opportunities are plentiful, regardless of language skills, which city / area should you opt for?

The Local asked Stephan Surber, Senior Partner, Page Executive – a sister company to Michael Page recruiter for some insight.

Which market is more attractive to qualified employees, and why?

“Both Geneva and Zurich provide considerable opportunities to skilled professionals”, Surber said.

However, according to the Michael Page Swiss Job Index, the number of advertised jobs in May was over nine times bigger for canton Zurich than for canton Geneva. 

Do both cities/region offer similar positions in similar industries, or are they different and if so, how?

“Both offer roles in key industries such as financial and professional services, as well as health and life sciences”, Surber said.

They typically differ from one another in the concentration of industries. For example, Geneva has a higher concentration of international NGOs such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organisation, as well as commodity traders.

Zurich also has these sectors but is better known for its concentration of Swiss-based, international financial institutions such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re, among others.

Is there a difference in terms of salaries for the same jobs / positions in each city?

There is no significant difference for professionals, in salary and compensation levels, according to Surber.

He pointed out that salaries in all major Swiss cities are at similar levels, with differences typically occurring between major Swiss cities and smaller, regional areas, and within small to medium organisations.

Compensation levels also vary across industries and according to the level of experience and the type of role.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland

Demand is especially strong right now in sectors such as technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as the private market industry.

For job seekers who are new to either city, Surber recommends building your professional network, for example by joining local chambers of commerce and / or professional associations.

These articles provide more information about finding work:

‘It’s competitive’: Essential advice for finding a job in Zurich

How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier
 

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