Working time recording - Overview of the duties of an SME and start-up company

Eliane Spirig
Eliane Spirig

The Swiss Labour Law (“Arbeitsgesetz” ArG) obliges the employer to keep documents ready that for example include information on the length of an employee's working time, overtime, breaks and any compensatory work.

In connection with the recording of working hours, there has been a recent revision of the law. The aim of this revision was to adapt the working time recording to today's requirements of the working world, to relieve the administrative burden on companies and to implement the labour law as efficiently as possible.

Forms of working time recording

With the entry into force of the new provisions on working time recording, the following forms of working time recording will apply from 1 January 2016:

1. systematic recording of working hours (Art. 73 ArGV 1)

Systematic working time recording also applies to employees who are not allowed to determine their working times with a certain degree of autonomy. This stipulates that the duration of working hours, breaks and compensation periods must be recorded. The company is free to decide how it records the working hours of its employees.

2. simplified recording of working hours (Art. 73b ArGV 1)

If employees can determine their own working hours to a certain extent, only the hours worked must be recorded as a total value per day. This means that neither the start nor the end of working hours or breaks need to be recorded.

3. waiving the recording of working hours (Art. 73a ArGV 1)

Employees who have a gross annual income, including bonuses, of more than CHF 120,000, have a high degree of autonomy and can determine at least half of their working hours themselves.

Obligations of SMEs and start-ups

The employer's obligations vary depending on the form of working time recording required.

1. employees with little or no autonomy with regard to working hours

This is where systematic time recording comes into play, which obliges the employer to provide its employees with a suitable instrument for recording working times.

The beginning and end of each individual work phase must be recorded. In addition, the duration of breaks of half an hour or more must also be recorded. It must also be possible to register rest and replacement rest days, overtime and compensatory work using the working time recording instrument.

2. employees with a certain degree of autonomy with regard to working hours

In order to facilitate the recording of working hours compared to the systematic recording of working hours, an agreement must be reached between employer and employees that complies with the new legal requirements. Such an agreement can be concluded either with the employee representatives or with a majority of employees. For establishments with fewer than 50 employees, this agreement may also be concluded individually with each of them. A collective labour agreement (CLA) is not required for this form of working time recording.

3. employees with great autonomy with regard to working hours

In contrast to simplified working time recording, a CLA must be concluded when working time recording is waived. The CLA must comply with the requirements of Art. 73a ArGV 1. In addition, the employer must ensure that each employee affected by this regulation signs an individual waiver.

Overall, it should be noted that the revision of the provision on working time recording brings not only flexibility but also additional effort. In any case, the obligation to record working hours enormously increases the administrative workload of SMEs and start-up companies. As a result, many companies do not even carry out their duties and are subject to potential fines and other penalties as a result of this behaviour.

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