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Possibly More Vacation on the Horizon

The Leisure Revolution is brewing in Switzerland. A popular initiative has been launched to raise the minimum vacation allotment in Switzerland from 4 weeks to 6 weeks. The required 125,000 signatures have been obtained and the Travail Suisse union is expected to formally register the initiative at the end of June.

Companies are already growling over it, calculating that it represents an insidious salary increase of about 4%, without taking into account the accompanying expenses of implementing the change and insuring continuity and production with a greater turnover of employee presence.

HR Managers have responded that if the measure passes, the result will be a strong brake on salary increases.

The Unions are unfazed by these arguments. They are aware that small companies — PMEs — will have difficulties adapting. But they argue that employees are squeezed more and more and have received little in return.

Except for top managerial salaries, wages have stagnated in Switzerland for more than ten years.

The manager of the Travail Suisse campaign for 6 weeks annual vacation argues that nearly half of employees are overworked and that the cost of work stress in Switzerland is nearly CHF 8 billion per year.

Will voters pass the initiative ? In 1985, voters rejected a proposal to increase the minimum annual leave by one week to five weeks/year. Commentators interpreted that conservative result as proof of the strong commitment to work in Switzerland.

But perhaps times have changed since then and the increased competition and globalization of the workplace in Switzerland, as well as different demographics, may lead to a different result this time around.

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