As of the end of February 2016 the National Council, Switzerland's House of Representatives, resolved to enact minimum shop opening hours, as follows:

  • Regular work days – 6:00am to 8:00pm;
  • Saturdays – 6:00am and 6:00pm; and
  • Sundays and national and cantonal holidays – hours remain unaffected.

The legislative proposal will now go back to the Senate, which represents Switzerland's 26 cantons equally.

In September 2015 the Senate refused to accept the federal bill, as a majority of the cantons believe it to be unfairly stacked in favour of the federal capital in Bern. Moreover, major unions fear that working hours for shop staff would indirectly come under pressure from public employment laws if hours remain unchanged (eg, the retail sales industry has a regular 45-hour working week).

The federal government introduced the new bill in September 2014 as a direct response to the strong Swiss franc, which resulted in significant shopping tourism, particularly in the Geneva, Basel and Zurich regions. The government also cited modern consumer needs, demanding more flexible shopping hours in the morning (when going to work) and in the evening (when returning from work).

Should the Senate finally agree to the new bill in one form or another, it is likely that the unions will call for a referendum whereby Swiss voters would have the final say.

For further information on this topic please contact Thomas Rihm at Lutz Partner Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+41 44 368 50 50) or email (thomas.rihm@lutz-partner.ch). The Lutz Partner website can be accessed at www.lutz-partner.ch.

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