More than a third of Swiss worked from home in 2020

There is no right to home office in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Employers’ Association © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Over a third of employees worked from home at least some of the time last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures varied depending on the sector, with ICT (information and communications technology) workers putting in the most hours from home.

This content was published on April 19, 2021 - 11:43

In this sector 76.3% of employees worked in their home office over the whole year, the Federal Statistical Office said in a statementExternal link on Monday. Its survey is based on data from the 2019 and 2020 Swiss Labour Force Surveys.

In second place was the finance and insurance sector, with 61.4% of work done at home. The education and training, professional services and scientific and technical services sectors also had more than half of their employees working at home at least some of the time.

Overall, 34.1% of employees teleworked at home all or part of the time last year. In 2019 the figure was only 24.6%.

Legal situation

Last year the government repeatedly urged Swiss to work from home wherever possible. However, practical and legal questions were raised. Is there a legal right to home office? Can an employer force his or her employees to work from home? What about the status of taking breaks while teleworking?

According to the Swiss Employers’ Association, there is no right to home office in Switzerland. This means that an employee who decides to work from home without their employer’s permission risks being punished. Even during the height of the pandemic, workers belonging to the most vulnerable groups could theoretically have been obliged to turn up at their place of work.

However, employers are also bound by law to protect the health of their workers, and if neither a safe workplace nor a teleworking option is available, then an employee can legally stay at home on full salary, said legal firm MME.

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