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Reduced working hours

Employees can be asked to reduce their working hours if a business temporarily has too little or no work. This page tells you what you need to know as an employee.

To protect jobs, companies can temporarily reduce or cancel employees’ working hours.

Notification of reduced working hours

Employers must notify the canton in writing of their intention to introduce reduced working hours at least 10 days prior to doing so. Employees do not need to take any specific steps. The canton checks to make sure reduced working hours are lawful and determines whether they are conducive to protecting jobs.

The employer must obtain written consent that employees are willing to work reduced hours. Employees have the right to refuse to do so, in which case the employer must continue to pay full wages, as specified in the employment contract.

Compensation for short-time work

  • If there is a lack of work, employees receive compensation for working reduced hours. This amounts to 80% of lost earnings.
  • • Apprentices, temporary staff and employees on fixed-term contracts are not affected by reduced working hours . They receive full wages, and as their employment contract has a fixed term, their employment may not, as a rule, be terminated prematurely.

Calculating wages in case of short-time work


Engineer, 1 child eligible for benefits
Insured income: CHF 7,810
(Broadly speaking, insured income is the amount from which AHV contributions are  deducted. The 13th month’s pay is included, while work-related expenses are not.)

Situation Wage calculation
Wage Explanations
A. Short-term work 50% working hours

50% of the wage from the employer


80% of 50% (compensation for reduced hours)


plus child and education allowances, as when working full hours.

    Total 7,029.-  


In comparison with unemployment

B. Unemployment

80% von 7,810.-                            Total 6,248.-     

plus child and education allowances per day according to cantonal rules, provided the other parent is not able to claim these allowances.

Working reduced hours has no impact on the period of entitlement to unemployment benefits. Following a period of reduced working hours, unemployment benefits are based on normal wages.

Social insurance contributions

Working reduced hours has no impact on social insurance contributions. Employers and employees must continue to pay full contributions.

Termination of employment possible

Both employers and employees may terminate the employment contract during a period of reduced working hours subject to the applicable notice periods. Employers must pay employees full wages for the duration of the notice period, regardless of whether full employment is available or not.

Addresses of unemployment offices