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Night work and Sunday work

Night work (from 11pm to 6am) and Sunday work (from 11pm on Saturdays to 11pm on Sundays) is generally prohibited .

Night work and Sunday work may be authorised if certain conditions are met. For some categories of employer and business there are special conditions that allow working at night or on Sundays without prior authorisation (see Ordinance 2 to the Employment Act).

In most cases, employees may not be expected to work on Sundays or at night without their express consent.

Temporary night work and Sunday work

For the employer

Temporary night work is a period of night work of no longer than three months per business and calendar year, or a one-off period of not more than six months.

Temporary Sunday work involves not more than six Sundays per business and calendar year, including public holidays, or Sundays work during a one-off period of three months maximum.

Temporary night and Sunday work must authorised by the canton unless the type of work is listed in Ordinance 2 to the Employment Act. Authorisation is given if there is an urgent need for the work.

For the employee

Temporary night work involves employees working a maximum of 24 nights per year. In this case, the employer must pay a wage premium of at least 25%.

Temporary Sunday work involves employees being required to work a maximum of 6 Sundays a year. In this case, employees receive a wage premium of 50% and have hours compensated. An employee who works up to five hours on a Sunday is given an equal amount of time off. If more than five hours are worked, the employee gets additional time off of at least 24 consecutive hours following the normal break of nine hours (i.e. 35 hours in total).

Permanent or regular night and Sunday work

For the employer

Night work and Sunday work is considered permanent or regular when the above conditions for temporary work are exceeded.

SECO authorises permanent or regular night and Sunday in cases in which the work is indispensable for technical or economic reasons. The occupations listed in Ordinance 2 to the Employment Act do not require special authorisation.

For the employee

Permanent or regular night work involves working 25 nights or more per calendar year.

Employees who work at night more than 25 nights per year are entitled to a medical examination and consultation. In certain cases, a medical examination is mandatory.

Employees who work Sundays or at night regularly or permanently are not entitled to a wage premium; however, for health protection reasons they are entitled to extra time off of 10% of the time worked at night. This extra time off must be awarded within a year. The extra time off awarded for permanent or regular Sunday work is the same as that for temporary Sunday work.

Further information

Further information on night work and Sunday work can be found in the SECO information leaflet on the main legal provisions on working hours and time off (in German: Das  Arbeitsgesetz: die wichtigsten Arbeits- und Ruhezeitbestimmungen in Kürze).

Fact sheet: ‘The most important provisions relating to working hours and rest time’