Tracking Working Time in Switzerland: Legal Requirements


The tracking of working time is mandatory for most Swiss companies. However, the exact legal requirements are often not entirely clear.

Depending on the sector or company, there may be additional requirements, for example in the form of collective labour agreements (CLAs). We will not cover these here.


Why track working time?

Why does working time have to be tracked? In today’s world - with lots of freedom, home office and flexible work - shouldn’t this be less importent?

The obligation to track working time is regulated in the Employment Act. The aim of the Employment Act is to protect employees from health hazards associated with the workplace. To this end, it contains regulations on health protection and regulations on working hours and rest periods.

Especially in today’s world, with an increasing mixture of work and private life, the regulation of working hours is therefore still very important.

Who must track working time?

Everyone who is subject to the Employment Act is obliged to track working time. There are some exceptions, for which the Employment Act is not or only partly applicable.

For top management, the regulations for working hours and rest periods in the Employment Act do not apply. However, only the top management members who can make decisions that significantly influence the course of business (typically CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.) are regarded as such.

Working time tracking

The Employment Act requires employers to keep available registers or other documents necessary for the enforcement of the Act and its ordinances.

In concrete terms, this means that employers must ensure that the working time of their employees is documented and present it to the cantonal labour inspectorate in the event of any checks being carried out. This data must be kept for at least 5 years.

There are three options for tracking working time:

  1. Systematic tracking of working time (standard rule)
  2. Simplified tracking of working hours
  3. Waiving the tracking of working time

The basic duty of documentation is regulated in Art. 46 of the Employment Act (EmpA) (not available in English).
What must be documented is regulated in Art. 73 of the Ordinance 1 to the Employment Act (EmpO 1) (not available in English).

1. Systematic tracking of working time (Art. 73 EmpO 1)

That’s the default rule. Unless otherwise agreed, this rule applies. In systematic time tracking, the start and end of work phases are tracked.

The following must be apparent from the documentation:

  • the personal data of the employees
  • the type of employment and the entry and exit of employees
  • the hours worked (daily and weekly), including compensatory and overtime work, and their situation
  • the weekly rest days or substitute rest days granted, provided that they do not regularly fall on a Sunday
  • the location and duration of breaks of half an hour or more
  • the operational derogations from the day, night and Sunday definitions in Articles 10, 16 and 18 of the Act
  • Rules on the time supplement provided for in Article 17b(2) and (3) of the Law
  • the wage and/or time supplements due under the law
  • the results of the medical checks concerning suitability or unfitness for night work or maternity
  • the existence of reasons for exclusion or the results of the maternity risk assessment and the operational measures taken on this basis.

2 Simplified tracking of working time (Art. 73b EmpO 1)

For companies in which employees can determine their working times themselves to a considerable extent, it can be agreed to track working time in a simplified manner.

This agreement is made between the employee representatives of an industry or a company or, where this does not exist, with the majority of employers.

With simplified time tracking, only the ** daily working time** must be tracked (exception: night and Sunday work: here the beginning and end must also be documented).

In companies with less than 50 employees, the simplified time tracking can be agreed individually in writing between employer and employee. The agreement must refer to the applicable working time and rest period regulations. In addition, an annual end-of-year meeting on the workload must be held and documented.

The employees concerned are nevertheless free to systematically track their working time. The employer must provide a suitable instrument for this.

3. Waiver of working time tracking (Art. 73a EmpO 1)

A waiver of time tracking is only possible if a collective labour agreement (CLA) exists between the employer and the employee organisations (trade unions) involved. This CLA must provide that the lists and documents do not have to contain the information pursuant to Art. 73 para. 1 c-e (daily working hours, rest days, breaks) and the surcharges owed.

In order to completely dispense with time tracking, employees must:

  • have a large degree of autonomy in their disputes and be able to determine the majority of their working hours themselves
  • have a gross annual income in excess of CHF 120,000 (including bonuses)
  • have individually agreed in writing that they will refrain from tracking working time

Overview of regulations

Regulation Applicable to the following employees Prerequisites What needs to be documented?
Systematic time tracking
  • All employees who need to track working time
  • beginning and end of each work phase
  • position and duration of breaks (half hour and more)
  • rest and replacement rest days
Simplified Time tracking
  • can set their own working hours to at least 25%
Agreement between employer and employee. A collective employment agreement (CLA) is not mandatory.
  • total duration of daily work
  • agreement between employer and employee
Waiver of time tracking
  • have great autonomy
  • can set their own working hours to at least 50%
  • have a gross income of over 120,000 Swiss francs
Collective employment agreement (CLA) between employer and employee organisation(s)
  • collective employment agreement that satisfies requirements
  • directory with wage details of employees who do not enter their wages
  • individual waiver by each employee concerned