Working hours

According to Art. 13 of Ordinance 1 to the Employment Act (EmpO 1, SR 822.111), working hours correspond to the period of time in which the worker is at the employer’s disposal. Travel time to and from the workplace is not considered in the calculation of working hours.

If a learner is required to carry out work outside of the usual workplace and if the journey to this workplace is longer than the usual journey, the difference is considered to be included in the calculation of working hours.

The parties who sign the apprenticeship contract generally agree on working hours. There are nevertheless restrictions due to legal provisions (Employment Act, EmpA, SR 822.11) and collective agreements (collective employment agreements – CEA). Learners must not work beyond the maximum number of working hours established in a CEA.

With regard to apprentices in agricultural occupations, EmpA only applies up to the minimum age; otherwise, the provisions of the standard employment contract (SEC) need to be taken into account.

In accordance with Art. 9 EmpA, the maximum working week is set at 45 hours per week for workers employed by industrial companies as well as for office personnel, technical personnel and other employees, including salespersons of large retail businesses and at 50 hours per week for all other categories of workers.

The daily working hours for learners, up to the age of 18, should not exceed 9 hours, including overtime and the hours worked in advance to make up for absences. The daily working hours of apprentices should not exceed the working hours of other workers, i.e. the customary agreed working hours. The hours worked during the day by young people must be included in a period of 12 hours, including breaks. These 12 hours must take place within the limitations of a working day (generally between 6.00 a.m. and 8.00 p.m.). Night work up to 10 p.m. is only authorised for young people who are aged 16 or over.

Up until the age of 18, apprentices must be given a rest period of at least 12 consecutive hours. The hours worked per week must be distributed over a maximum of 5.5 days.

Learners must not work at night or on Sundays. Special dispensations from this restriction must be approved. Certain occupations are exempted from the obligation to request approval; they are listed in the EAER Ordinance of 21 April 2011 on Special Dispensations for Night and Sunday Work in Apprenticeship Training (SR 822.115.4)

As far as exceptions in particular cases are concerned, the following principle applies: night work and work on Sundays can only be authorised outside of the recommended working hours if it is absolutely indispensable for the apprentice’s training. The host company must send a request to the competent cantonal authority (up to ten nights per year) or to SECO (if the night work occurs at regular intervals).

A full day of vocational instruction (at least 6 and a maximum of 9 lessons, including remedial courses and optional courses) corresponds to a working day. If the instruction corresponds to a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 lessons, this corresponds to a half day of work. This provision also applies to attendance of branch courses. It is impossible to lay down a rule given varying distances between the host company, the VET school and the branch training centre. If the registered office of the host company is not situated far from the VET school or the place where the courses are given, the learner can return to work on the same day after the six lessons. If, on the other hand, the place where the lessons are given is far from the registered office of the host company, the learner is not obliged to return to work on the same day after six lessons.

Employers must keep written records of the hours worked, either by means of work sheets, work cards or clocking in/out machines. The obligation to keep records may be stipulated in the employment contract;

The term “self-assigned” employees means a particular form of employment with controls. Employees work during a fixed number of working hours (blocked hours) as well as a minimum number of hours per week. Within the scope of these restrictions the worker can then decide on his or her working hours. For these types of employees, the matter of the time spent in vocational instruction and branch courses has to be taken into account for learners. In most cases, these absences are considered to be normal working days; each day of absence thus represents a fifth of the hours worked per week. The usual breaks during classroom instruction (with the exception of lunch breaks) cannot be deducted from the working hours.

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