The four-day week is coming to Switzerland

The four-day week is coming to Switzerland

Michelle Woringer (34) worked full time for 15 years. From the beginning of May, it is only four days a week – with the same income. “Our employer shows courage,” says consultant Addvanto. The marketing agency in Zurich was one of the first Swiss companies to introduce a four-day working week, and it did it right: 16 employees work 34 hours a week and receive full pay.

“Corona has given an impetus to the world of work,” says Addvanto CEO Stefan Planzer (51). «The home office and digital technologies enable the creation of new models.» An additional motive is fierce competition for talents. “We want to remain attractive,” says Planzer.

Michelle Woringer has been off every Wednesday for a month now. She felt the effect immediately: “The day off slows down the week. I can run errands and have more time to myself. This takes the strain off not only the weekend, but also the remaining four working days. » And most importantly: “There is energy. I work much more efficiently! »

The rest of the time needs to be more productive

This is crucial, says Stefan Planzer: “We don’t want to reduce performance, we want to work more efficiently and in a more concentrated manner. We also want to develop and create jobs. Then the bill will add up. “

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It goes like this: If 20 percent of your working hours are lost, the remaining hours must be more productive. Otherwise it will have a financial impact. Planzer is aware of this: “We opened the scissors last night. We have fewer resources and higher costs. We make up for it with even more transparency and efficiency. “

Only employees who really need to be there take part in the meetings. Daily activities are simplified and the work tasks of the teams are coordinated in a targeted manner. This is why customers felt nothing about the transition, according to boss Addvanto: “The operation lasts five days a week as usual.”

Planzer emphasizes: “This is not a pilot project. We really want this. “

Spain and New Zealand are already testing

Like the Icelanders who tested the model in a large experiment in 2016-2019. Effect: employees were able to better reconcile work and private life, were healthier and more balanced. The risk of burnout has significantly decreased. And: Performance remained the same or even improved. Currently, nine out of ten Icelandic workers are entitled to at least five hours less working time with full pay.

France has a 35-hour working week. Belgium recently introduced a four-day working week with 38 hours of work in the law. Spain and New Zealand have started extensive test projects. The UK plans a full-scale experiment in 2022.

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In Switzerland, a dozen companies have introduced or announced a four-day working week – most of these pioneers, however, only spread the previous working hours over four days instead of five.

Funiciello wants a 35-hour week

National Councilor of the SP Tamara Funiciello (32) wants to change this. In December, she applied for a 35-hour working week across Switzerland – with full pay for low- and middle-income workers.

In a transitional period of ten years, this would have been possible without any problems, says Funiciello. “Other countries have long proven that it works. Productivity has been increasing for decades, but in Switzerland, workers have less and less dough. ‘

It also has the social dimension in mind, says Funiciello: “Women in particular carry out unpaid care work worth 248 billion francs each year in this country. This costs them working time, which is why they are poorer on average and receive a lower pension. If they get fully paid 35 hours a week, they get something back for their caring work. ”

Don’t link all industries together

The Federal Council rejects the proposal: industries include the distribution of productivity gains. Funiciello takes this attitude within reach: “We are no longer in the industrial age – after all, we have to distribute wealth fairly!”

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The employer President Valentin Vogt (61) sees it differently: “It is not the task of the state to set such strict rules. However, we do not stand in the way of companies that want to offer alternative models. But it depends on the companies. ” Because the 35-hour working week does not work in all sectors, according to Vogt. «Especially when working with a certain attendance time, the calculation for the company does not add up. You can’t compensate for 20 percent less work with 20 percent more efficiency. ”

Adrian Ritz (52), professor of business administration at the University of Bern, is also reluctant to regulate. But he also says: “For employees, a four-day week undoubtedly has many advantages. This model can increase productivity, especially in creative and knowledge-based jobs. ‘ Ritz encourages big tests like in Iceland that compare different professions. The time is right: “The pandemic has increased the willingness to experiment.”

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