Working time


All periods during which the employee is at the disposal of the employer, either by performing his/her work or by spending time in the interest of the company, constitute working time. The employee must be compensated for this time. In some situations, the distinction between work time and rest time is difficult to determine.

For reasons of health protection of the employees, the working time has daily and weekly limits, which are set by the Labor Act. The employer must ensure that the provisions on working time are respected. Certain categories of employees are given special protection.

Recording of working time

In order to ensure that employees' working hours and rest periods are respected, the employer must record their working hours, including overtime and supplementary work. This substantial obligation can be reduced or waived for certain categories of employees, provided they meet certain conditions regarding salary and/or autonomy in the management of working time.

Special protection

Certain periods of employees' lives are more sensitive. These employees may be more susceptible to fatigue and may require more rest time. They may benefit from special protection granted by the Labor Act.

This is particularly the case for pregnant women, nursing mothers and young workers, whose working hours have specific limits. In addition, female employees can benefit from breastfeeding breaks, under certain conditions, which will be counted as working time.


The Labor Act requires employers to provide breaks for employees to recharge their batteries and eat. The length of these breaks depends mainly on the length of the employee's workday. The break does not count as working time, as long as the employee has a minimum of freedom of movement.

Business travel

Many employees are required to travel within Switzerland or even abroad in the course of their duties. The question of whether travel time, air travel, business meals or even weekends spent abroad without working constitute working time that must be compensated is a delicate one.

Incidental activity

Sometimes, for economic reasons, the employee holds several jobs. This situation can be problematic in terms of working hours, especially when the employee works evenings or overtime.

Overtime and supplementary work

In the event of an increase in workload, employees may be required to work overtime or extra hours, depending on the circumstances. In principle, this is working time that must be compensated by the employer.

However, executives and people in high management positions are in a special situation. Because of their position within the company, they are often not entitled to compensation for overtime. Supplementary work situations are subject to different rules depending on the status of the employee.

Flexible working hours

Within the framework of flexible working hours, the employee can determine, within certain limits, the beginning and end of his or her working day as well as the length of his or her lunch break. The compensation of positive or negative hours accumulated by the employee is subject to specific rules. In particular, a distinction must be made between overtime and additional hours worked in the context of flexible working hours.

Fluctuating work hours

When provided for in a collective employment contract, fluctuating work hours allow the employer to modulate the working hours of employees, increasing them when there is an increase in workload or, on the contrary, reducing them when there is a shortage of work, without affecting the employees' salary. It can only be implemented in very specific circumstances.

Senior managers

are not subject to the Labor Act and its provisions on working hours and rest periods due to their position.

The notion of high managerial position is restrictive and meets strict criteria. In practice, it is not always easy to distinguish between an ordinary manager and an employee who has a high-level management function.

Furthermore, if the working time of a person in a high management position is not limited, this does not mean that the employer is relieved of all responsibilities, especially in case of burnout.


A way to avoid the sometimes tedious commute, telecommuting is popular with employees. However, it is sometimes difficult for the employer to prevent abuse. Employers are still obliged to record the working hours of their employees and to ensure that rest periods between two working days are respected. This can be difficult, especially if the employee takes advantage of telecommuting to care for his or her children and then makes up for lost time in the evening or at night.

Out of the office

With the development of technology and the shift to digital technology, it is becoming easier for employees to work outside the office. Whether it is at the initiative of an overzealous manager or at the request of the employer, these hours will sometimes count as working time that must be paid. Beware of legal rest periods that will not always be respected.


More and more employees need or want to take continuing education to be competitive. Does the time spent on training constitute working time?

On-call work

Useful in times of crisis, on-call work allows the employer to benefit from a certain amount of available labor, without having to commit to a minimum work week. This does not mean, however, that the employer can abruptly stop calling on an on-call worker when he or she is no longer needed. 

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