Increase in working hours

Employment contract

The weekly working time is an element that is usually negotiated at the conclusion of the employment contract. Between the economic needs of the company and the private life of the employee, the parties have to agree.

In principle, the employer and the employee are free to decide on the working time. However, this working time is subject to legal limits. The employer must be particularly careful when the employee holds several jobs, as these limits can quickly be exceeded.


The needs of the business may change over time. The working hours agreed upon by employer and employee become inappropriate, depending on the economic circumstances or organisational needs of the company. In order to change the working time, the consent of both parties is required, as it is an essential element of the employment contract.

Where the increase in working time is not the result of a joint desire of the parties, the employer will have to use the leave procedure to obtain the employee's consent. If these rules are not strictly observed, a possible dismissal due to the employee's refusal to increase his working hours may be considered abusive.

In the context of the strong franc crisis, some companies have decided to increase the weekly working hours of employees without increasing their wages proportionally. Such a procedure is not without risk and may well be abusive.

Collective redundancy

In the event of an economic crisis, particularly in connection with the strong franc, the employer may be forced to take measures to safeguard the economic interests of his company. He may be tempted to increase the working hours of his employees without paying them a proportional additional salary. The employer will have to give them time off for changes.

When these leave changes concern all or some of the company's employees, the employer risks finding himself in a situation of collective redundancy. If the employer does not follow the collective dismissal procedure in addition to the leave to change procedure, the financial consequences can be particularly serious. 

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1 Mar, 2010 byMarianne Favre Moreillon