In prac­tice, more and more working time models are being intro­du­ced that are no lon­ger based on fixed and regu­lar working hours, but allow for fle­xi­ble dis­tri­bu­tion of working time. Des­pite the great rele­vance of part-time work, the employ­ment con­tract pro­vi­si­ons of the Swiss Code of Obli­ga­ti­ons (SCO) do not expli­ci­tly regu­late part-time work. As a result, part-time employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hips are basi­cally sub­ject to the same pro­vi­si­ons as full-time employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hips. Howe­ver, because Arti­cles 319 et seq. SCO are tailo­red to full-time employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hips, cer­tain dif­fi­cul­ties may occa­sio­nally arise in their app­li­ca­tion to part-time rela­ti­ons­hips, which are descri­bed below.

Part-time or casual work?

Regu­lar part-time work or actual part-time work exists if the employer and the employee have agreed, for example, on a scope of work of 50% of the full wee­kly working time or two days per week. Irre­gu­lar or impro­per part-time work, on the other hand, is given if the work is per­for­med at very irre­gu­lar inter­vals and/or in dif­fe­ring time units, e.g. if an employee works 8 hours in a cer­tain week, 12 hours in the fol­lowing week and not at all in the fol­lowing two weeks. Howe­ver, in both cases this is a sin­gle, con­ti­nuing employ­ment relationship.

A dis­tinc­tion must be made bet­ween tem­porary or occa­sio­nal work and this regu­lar and irre­gu­lar part-time work. This is not based on a con­ti­nuing employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hip in the same way as part-time work, but con­sists of a series of indi­vi­dual, self-con­tai­ned employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hips. The­re­fore, a new employ­ment con­tract is agreed for each indi­vi­dual assign­ment, even if this con­tract can be con­clu­ded infor­mally, as often hap­pens in prac­tice. Howe­ver, the more regu­lar these assign­ments become, the grea­ter the risk that in a dis­pute the courts will no lon­ger assume only casual work, but actual or impro­per part-time work. This leads to cor­re­spon­ding claims by the employee. If occa­sio­nal assign­ments gra­du­ally deve­lop into regu­lar work (e.g. four assign­ments per month), the typi­cal claims of the employee under employ­ment law (pro­tec­tion against dis­mis­sal, holi­day enti­t­le­ment, con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages in the event of ill­ness, etc.) also arise.


Of course, part-time employees are also enti­t­led to real holi­days. This enti­t­le­ment is based on Art. 329a SCO. For employees over the age of 20, it amounts to at least four weeks per year, which cor­re­sponds to 20 days of holi­day for full-time employees. For part-time employees, the num­ber of holi­day weeks is not redu­ced, but only the num­ber of holi­day days accord­ing to the degree of part-time work. An employee who works two days per week (40%) may also take four weeks of holi­day. Howe­ver, he has only taken eight days of holi­day (4 weeks of 2 days each, during which he does not work), which means that his holi­day enti­t­le­ment is exhausted.

Holi­day enti­t­le­ment should not be con­fu­sed with holi­day pay. Some­ti­mes, in hourly paid employ­ment, employ­ers do not pay the holi­day pay when the employee is actually on holi­day, but pay it con­ti­nuously with the cur­rent wages (8.33% for four weeks’ holi­day). This type of holi­day pay does not, of course, lead to a sett­le­ment of the holi­day enti­t­le­ment of the part-time employee. The part-time employee is still enti­t­led to four weeks’ holi­day per year. Only the wage for the four weeks of holi­days has already been (par­ti­ally) reim­bur­sed with the cur­rent wage pay­ments. But beware: Accord­ing to Federal Court case law, this type of holi­day pay is only per­mis­si­ble if there is a very irre­gu­lar part-time employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hip. Moreo­ver, it is requi­red that the wage pre­mium attri­bu­ta­ble to holi­days be shown sepa­r­ately both in the employ­ment con­tract and in each indi­vi­dual pay slip. A note “holi­day pay inclu­ded” is not suf­fi­ci­ent. If these requi­re­ments are not met (e.g. if the employee is regu­larly employed on a part-time basis), the employer is threa­tened with dou­ble pay­ment — even though he has already com­pen­sa­ted the holi­day pay with the cur­rent wage payments.

Time off and public holidays

Whe­ther part-time employees are enti­t­led to a paid public holi­day is initi­ally deter­mi­ned by the type of remu­ne­ra­tion agreed upon. Employees on a mon­thly salary are enti­t­led to paid public holi­days if the holi­day falls on a day that is part of the employee’s con­trac­tual working hours. For example, if an employee always works on Mon­day, he or she is enti­t­led to a work-free and paid Whit Mon­day, but not to a work-free and paid Good Fri­day. In the case of chan­ging work sche­du­les, on the other hand, an obli­ga­tion to pay wages in pro­por­tion to the degree of employ­ment should be assu­med. The legal situa­tion is dif­fe­rent for hourly-paid employees. They are not enti­t­led to com­pen­sa­tion for public holi­days. Such a claim would only exist if a cor­re­spon­ding con­trac­tual arran­ge­ment was made, which in prac­tice — argu­ably with a view to equal tre­at­ment with employees on a mon­thly salary — occurs rela­tively often.

The ques­tion also ari­ses as to whe­ther a part-time employee is enti­t­led to short-term leave of absence to attend to a per­so­nal mat­ter wit­hin the mea­ning of Art. 329 para. 3 SCO (e.g. a doctor’s appoint­ment). The ans­wer to this ques­tion depends on whe­ther it is rea­son­able for the employee to do so during the time off from work, which is likely to be the case as a rule.


Accord­ing to Art. 321c SCO, a part-time employee is also obli­ged to work over­time if he is able to do so and it can be rea­son­ably expec­ted of him in good faith. Over­time exists when extra work is per­for­med bey­ond the con­trac­tually agreed working hours or bey­ond the nor­mal working hours of the com­pany. Thus, an employee who is employed on a part-time basis of 10 hours per week, but works 14 hours per week, works four hours of over­time. If these over­time hours are not com­pen­sa­ted by time off and not­hing to the con­trary is agreed in wri­ting or sti­pu­la­ted in the stan­dard or collec­tive agree­ment, these over­time hours must be paid with a pre­mium of 25% (Art. 321c para. 3 SCO).

Con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages

If the employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hip has las­ted more than three mon­ths or has been ent­e­red into for more than three mon­ths, the part-time employee who is pre­ven­ted from working for per­so­nal rea­sons through no fault of his own (e.g. ill­ness) is enti­t­led to limi­ted con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages (Art. 324a para. 1 SCO), regard­less of whe­ther he is employed on an hourly or mon­thly basis. If no daily sick­ness bene­fits insurance has been taken out, the dura­tion of the con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages is deter­mi­ned accord­ing to the app­li­ca­ble Zurich, Bern or Basel scale. Accord­ing to the Zurich scale, the con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages is 3 weeks in the first year of ser­vice, 8 weeks in the second year of ser­vice, and so on. In the case of part-time work with fluc­tua­ting income, which is very com­mon, the ques­tion also ari­ses as to which wage is to be used as the basis for cal­cu­la­ting the con­ti­nued pay­ment of wages. The average wage ear­ned during a cer­tain period of time before the occur­rence of the event (refe­rence period) is to be taken into account. This refe­rence period is more mea­ning­ful and, in view of pos­si­ble sea­so­nal or other fluc­tua­tions, also more appro­priate if it is mea­su­red as generously as pos­si­ble (e.g. the average wage of the last twelve months).

Mul­ti­ple job holding

Mul­ti­ple employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hips with dif­fe­rent employ­ers are gene­rally per­mis­si­ble, pro­vi­ded there is no vio­la­tion of Art. 321a para. 3 SCO. Accord­ing to this pro­vi­sion, the employee may not per­form work for a third party in return for remu­ne­ra­tion for the dura­tion of the employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hip if in doing so he vio­la­tes the duty of loyalty, in par­ti­cu­lar if the employee com­pe­tes with the employer. In my opi­nion, there are no rea­sons here to deviate from this regu­la­tion on the pro­hi­bi­tion of com­pe­ti­tion during the employ­ment rela­ti­ons­hip, which also app­lies to full-time employees. Howe­ver, there are also aut­hors who take a dif­fe­rent view: Thus, a tacit wai­ver of the non-com­pe­ti­tion clause can gene­rally be pre­su­med if under the cir­cum­s­tan­ces the employer can­not assume that the part-time employee will only work for him.

If the part-time employee per­forms various acti­vi­ties, it must be ensu­red that the accu­mu­la­ted working time does not exceed the maxi­mum working time pre­scri­bed by the Employ­ment Act. This is 45 or 50 hours per week, depen­ding on the type of work. A vio­la­tion of the maxi­mum working time occurs, for example, if the employee works for two com­pa­nies for 26 hours per week each. The regu­la­ti­ons on breaks (Art. 15 ArG) and daily rest (Art. 15a ArG) must also be obser­ved if the employee works for several employ­ers on the same day. Since the employer is respon­si­ble for com­pli­ance with the pro­vi­si­ons on working hours and rest peri­ods under employ­ment law, he must the­re­fore ensure that he is infor­med of any mul­ti­ple employ­ment of the employee. Howe­ver, the employee has a cor­re­spon­ding duty of disclosure.

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