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Old 15.03.2007, 02:15
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Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Hello All,

Although this is my first posting here, I have been visiting this site in the last months. I would really appreciate any help or comment on my question/situation.

I am in the UK and I was offered a position in Zurich by my current employer. This position will be under a local Swiss contract meaning that I will not be an expatriate there.

The problem is my employer refuses to say the amount of working hours I will have to work there. They argue that the normal Swiss working contract does not specify any amount of hours per week that employees should work. Instead my contract says I should "dedicate and devote my full time to the business and work as much as necessary in order to have the business done". Obviously, overtime will be not paid.

Seriously I have never seen such a thing in my life and I am talking about a multinational consumer goods company here... No, I am not an executive (my level is analyst) and I am afraid this is going to give my employer a full control of my life.

For the ones out there who have a Swiss contract:

1) Have you ever seen something similar?
2) Do you have in your employement contract the amount of hours you are supposed to work?
3) If so, how many hours per week is the standard?

Thanks very much for your help.
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  #2  
Old 15.03.2007, 02:41
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

1. No I have never seen anything like that.
2. Normally the contract stipulates the number of hours a week
3. 42 hours per week is standard, although I have seen 45 (42 practically, the extra 3 was used to absorb the shift penalties).

Having said that, a lot depends on your employment role. If you are at a level of management that affects the day to day running of the company, you may not be entitled to overtime. At middle management and below you are covered by Swiss employment law which is quite restrictive on working hours, minimum breaks between shifts, etc. At your level you can only work a maximum of around 50 hours a week legally.
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  #3  
Old 15.03.2007, 07:37
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

It is a must for you employer to state your working hours in your contract.

Most go by weakly rate but my contract state a consolidated hours for a year.
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Old 15.03.2007, 08:35
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Maybe they are try to get around working hours limits. Its all very strange. I would write or email them to highlight "their omission" from your contract, and if no reply is received then you will assume a standard 40 hours (or whatever). It shouldn't come to that.

Check with some locals at swiss branch and see what their contract says...

The only time I have seen it excluded is in either fixed price contracts (payment on job done) or consultants (that don't want this document to show the number of hours they will be booking).

dave

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Hello All,

Although this is my first posting here, I have been visiting this site in the last months. I would really appreciate any help or comment on my question/situation.

I am in the UK and I was offered a position in Zurich by my current employer. This position will be under a local Swiss contract meaning that I will not be an expatriate there.

The problem is my employer refuses to say the amount of working hours I will have to work there. They argue that the normal Swiss working contract does not specify any amount of hours per week that employees should work. Instead my contract says I should "dedicate and devote my full time to the business and work as much as necessary in order to have the business done". Obviously, overtime will be not paid.

Seriously I have never seen such a thing in my life and I am talking about a multinational consumer goods company here... No, I am not an executive (my level is analyst) and I am afraid this is going to give my employer a full control of my life.

For the ones out there who have a Swiss contract:

1) Have you ever seen something similar?
2) Do you have in your employement contract the amount of hours you are supposed to work?
3) If so, how many hours per week is the standard?

Thanks very much for your help.
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Old 15.03.2007, 09:36
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

I believe hours per week also vary from canton to canton as different cantons have different numbers of public/bank holidays during the year so you may find that 41 hours is common in one canton while 42 might be common in another.
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Old 15.03.2007, 10:36
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

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Hello All,

Although this is my first posting here, I have been visiting this site in the last months. I would really appreciate any help or comment on my question/situation.

I am in the UK and I was offered a position in Zurich by my current employer. This position will be under a local Swiss contract meaning that I will not be an expatriate there.

The problem is my employer refuses to say the amount of working hours I will have to work there. They argue that the normal Swiss working contract does not specify any amount of hours per week that employees should work. Instead my contract says I should "dedicate and devote my full time to the business and work as much as necessary in order to have the business done". Obviously, overtime will be not paid.

Seriously I have never seen such a thing in my life and I am talking about a multinational consumer goods company here... No, I am not an executive (my level is analyst) and I am afraid this is going to give my employer a full control of my life.

For the ones out there who have a Swiss contract:

1) Have you ever seen something similar?
2) Do you have in your employement contract the amount of hours you are supposed to work?
3) If so, how many hours per week is the standard?

Thanks very much for your help.
Just to fill you in here. It is normal to state the working hours but it is not necessary in the same way as it is not necessary to state the starting time and ending time of a day. Standard hours are dependent on industry sector and are either 45 or 50. Over that overtime is obligatory ie they are legally obliged to pay it unless you are in the Kader - ie a management grade.
There is no such thing as standard working hours per Kanton or Gemeinde as in other points that are written int he forum. The reason for leaving this out is to avoid a cut-off point after which you would be entitled to compensation in some form for overtime worked.
Standard hours in Switzerland is 42 per working week.

The clause in your contract that states that you should work full-time is probably a translation issue. It was beneficial to be "full time" in the past although the legal position has since greatly changed.
It is legally a non-sentence in that an employer cannot tie you to your job and as such the part of the sentence that ignores or breaks the law is ignored or at least you can ignore it - the actually phrase is however standard that you work as much as is necessary to get the job done - to the legal limit of 50 hours per week before compensation is needed.
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Old 15.03.2007, 10:58
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

the working hours point aside, i would suggest that a potentially bigger issue is that your employer is not offering you an expat contract.

As you are already employed by this company, this sounds unusual to me.

Expat contracts often have valuable benefits, and can subsequently be converted into local contracts if both parties want this.

You should clarify what 'local status' means and why they want you to have a local contract and be aware of what this means for you.

Best of luck!
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  #8  
Old 15.03.2007, 22:08
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

If it's not in the contract, then it should be regulated in the "personalreglement" which is an integral part of the work agreement and should lay out disciplinary procedures etc etc. and be available to all employees.

If it's in neither it doesnt sound very serious to me... take care.

I wouldnt make too much of it not being an expat contract. We have a few juniors with no family ties etc where we helped with the move and some free accomodation but not much more.

Daniel
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Old 31.03.2008, 15:03
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Hi,
I'd like to add to this thread, as I'm in a bit of a similiar situation.

I've been offered a job in Geneva, but the contract is very bare. It does include weekly hours, but not disciplinary procedures, maternity leave etc etc.

The contract is in accordance with the 'Code Federal des Obligations', but I've not been able to find this on-line.

Does anyone have a link to a clear description of the work contract obligations for the Canton of Geneva?

Cheers...
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Old 31.03.2008, 15:28
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

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Hi,
I'd like to add to this thread, as I'm in a bit of a similiar situation.

I've been offered a job in Geneva, but the contract is very bare. It does include weekly hours, but not disciplinary procedures, maternity leave etc etc.

The contract is in accordance with the 'Code Federal des Obligations', but I've not been able to find this on-line.

Does anyone have a link to a clear description of the work contract obligations for the Canton of Geneva?

Cheers...
Been burned once, employer did not produce a contract prior to the first working day. My advice; do not start working till the contract is agreed and signed by both parties (and you have a copy in your hand).

Otherwise, here are a couple links I found on a first search:

Swiss Labor Laws

Employment and Work Permits (including Employee Protection, Wages and Hours, Permits, Organizations and "Black" Employment).

ch.ch has some good lnfo-Links.


Good luck!
bests

Last edited by Scott; 31.03.2008 at 15:37. Reason: third link added.
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  #11  
Old 31.03.2008, 15:31
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Work law is at a national rather than cantonal level hence "code federal".

Check with the company if they have an employee handbook. This would be an integral part of your contract and may summarize eg disciplinary procedures, working hours and the like.

If you want the short version of Swiss employment law: employees have minimal rights. eg Notice periods pretty much cut both ways.

Statutory vacaction is 4 weeks plus bank holidays (I think it goes up to 5 years over age 50).

Daniel
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  #12  
Old 31.03.2008, 15:47
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

I wish holidays did go up to 5 years after 50! It would certainly help the countdown to retirement!
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  #13  
Old 31.03.2008, 22:53
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Partial English translation of Swiss Code of Obligations
http://www.cfoinstitute.ch/18204.asp

The original in French (also available in German, Italian)
http://www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/22.html
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Old 31.03.2008, 23:25
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

That sounds pretty much as a standard contract as I know them (and I've seen a few :-). A contract normally states function, salary, working hours, holiday and starting period. Not much more. It is not really common to put anything in the contract that isn't better than the Code of Obligation. Not even this is necessary as it can equally well be regulated through an employee handbook or even an oral agreement.

There really isn't much need to do it in any other way as anything contractually agreed can be changed by the employer as long as the statutory notice period is kept.

You may want to ask though if there is an employee handbook that you can have a look at before you sign. And of course, try to find out as much about Swiss Employment Law as you can before you sign. This site is a great source for that :-)




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Hi,
I'd like to add to this thread, as I'm in a bit of a similiar situation.

I've been offered a job in Geneva, but the contract is very bare. It does include weekly hours, but not disciplinary procedures, maternity leave etc etc.

The contract is in accordance with the 'Code Federal des Obligations', but I've not been able to find this on-line.

Does anyone have a link to a clear description of the work contract obligations for the Canton of Geneva?

Cheers...
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Old 31.07.2012, 22:08
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Hi,
this is standard procedure. An employment contract usually states the compensation, job title, place of work and starting date. Terms to adhere to all employees re usually summarized in an employment handbook, if not that the Swiss Code of Obligations "OR" is the legally binding addendum to the contract. Check the following link.

www.admin.ch/ch/e/rs/2/220.en.pdf

Working others depend on the industry. Banks and service companies usually have a 40 to 42 hour week; industry is sometimes 45 hours. If the compensation is mentioned in a yearly income - it implies that this does include overtime.

Hope this information is of some help.

Good luck.
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Old 31.07.2012, 22:16
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

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Hi,
this is standard procedure. An employment contract usually states the compensation, job title, place of work and starting date. Terms to adhere to all employees re usually summarized in an employment handbook, if not that the Swiss Code of Obligations "OR" is the legally binding addendum to the contract. Check the following link.

www.admin.ch/ch/e/rs/2/220.en.pdf

Working others depend on the industry. Banks and service companies usually have a 40 to 42 hour week; industry is sometimes 45 hours. If the compensation is mentioned in a yearly income - it implies that this does include overtime.

Hope this information is of some help.

Good luck.
Might have been 4 years ago !!
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Old 31.07.2012, 23:16
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Be aware the company can terminate your contract for any reason, by giving notice as required by law or written in the contract if it's better. There is no such thing as redundancy in CH.
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Old 31.07.2012, 23:44
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

Hi


1) Have you ever seen something similar?

Well sort of, kind of "should be fully devoted to the company". This is not too worrying albeit old fashioned.

2) Do you have in your employement contract the amount of hours you are supposed to work?

Yes otherwise it is 45 hours by default

3) If so, how many hours per week is the standard?

I would say 41-42 hours is standard. 40 hours is becoming more common.

In general in Switzerland you can expect a good salary vs UK and a slightly better standard of living. However employees rights are very limited, one can be sacked without warning and no redundancy money, and employers have no justification to give.

This is why it is important to get a good salary, minimum 2X your UK salary.

PM me if you want more info
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Old 01.08.2012, 07:51
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

I've worked in similar jobs in multinationals, even if they specify 40/42 hours a week, if there's too much to do and you have to work 50+, what are you going to do? Whine about your contract? I figure if they want to screw you, you can't do much about it at this point in your career. If you want to move to Switzerland, take the job and as soon as you get here start looking for another one, I'm not saying get ready to leave, but be ready to leave.
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Old 01.08.2012, 14:35
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Re: Working Hours NOT in the Employment Contract

When I came here my multinational UK employer did a construct whereby they kept me on my UK contract, gave me a standard local CH contract for my level and a letter of assignment. It was a hybrid whereby the assignment letter gave me assignment benefits like moving costs, relocation allowances and a relocation agent to help me find accommodation etc as well as temporary accommodation until I'd found a flat etc. But the local unlimited contract with our Swiss firm allowed me to take my contract and passport to the authorities to get my residency and work permit on the spot. As Swiss pay levels for my role was a lot more (over and above cost of living differences) than my UK pay with cost of living allowances would have been this made economic sense in my case.

As to your original question - my Swiss contract was like 2 A4 pages and made reference to a bunch of employee handbook type things so I made them send these to me and read them before I signed the contract.

When I got here I was not in a kader role and my overtime was compensated, which made a nice change from the UK because I did just as much overtime and was not compensated over and above my normal salary. Since then I was promoted but I now have a minimum bonus entitlement which increases based on overtime and personal performance to compensate me for the expectation that I'll work however long I have to to finish the job. So in effect I am better off than I was when I got compensated for my overtime because I never could use all the TOIL anyway.

So in summary, this set up may or may not make sense.

You need to make sure you get hold of all relevant information in a language you understand and be sure you understand what it all means before you sign anything. As Swiss HR for a call to answer any of your questions because this is not the time to make assumptions about what stuff means or how badly it is translated.

And negotiate relocation benefits and have them in writing. Moving is expensive and stressful at the best of times, it is disproportionately more so if you move internationally. There are a bunch of unexpected costs, there is trying to find somewhere to live in a place you don't know at all, with customs and legal differences you're unaware of etc. so be sure they pay for that, not you.

Things you may want to ask for are: moving costs, temporary accommodation on arrival, relocation agent helping you find somewhere to live, relocation allowance to cover incidental costs. If you get a local contract you'll have to pay for local health insurance anyway so you may not need expat health insurance cover. What you may however want to also ask for is repatriation benefits (moving costs, temp accommodation on your return etc), unless the plan is for this to be a one way move.
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