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High wages, long hours

The Swiss work a lot, an average of 41.6 hours a week for full-time employees in 2005. Full-time employees are entitled to leave of only 20 working days per year. This is less than in many other European countries. Public holidays vary from canton to canton, but there are generally 8 or 9.

In 1985, the Swiss rejected a general increase in vacation entitlement from four to five weeks and in 2002 they voted against the introduction of the 36 hour week.

Strikes are rare and workplace absenteeism is low.

About three quarters of absences from the work place are for health reasons, but over 13% are for military service or its civilian equivalent.

A survey of 71 cities round the world carried out by the Swiss bank UBS in 2006 showed both Zurich and Geneva offered higher net salaries but demanded a higher number of hours than did comparable cities across the world.


According to a survey carried out by economic experts in Canton Aargau published in 2006, the best-paid job in Switzerland is that of a long-haul airline pilot, who can expect a basic monthly salary of 18,193 francs after 20 years experience.

There are large regional differences between salary levels.

A survey conducted by the Federal Statistical Office in 2004 showed a difference of over one thousand francs per month in the median wage between the best and worst paid areas. In the Zurich region it was 5,984 francs, while in Ticino it was 4,823. (The median wage is situated at the half way point on the wage scale: half the wages under consideration are higher, and half are lower.)

The disparity is to be explained by the nature of the economic activity conducted in the different areas. Banking, insurance and research account for the high median wage in the Zurich region. 

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