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24-hour care in Switzerland: Placement agencies must comply with the Working Hours Act!

The Swiss trade union VPOD (Verband des Personals öffentlicher Dienste – Association of Public Service Employees) is campaigning to improve the working conditions of 24-hour caregivers and has won the court case against a private employment agency from Basel.
In Switzerland, caregivers are employed either by the family or by a placement agency. In most cases, they sign employment contracts with the agencies in which working hours of between 42 and 50 hours per week are agreed. The problem is non-compliance with the contractually regulated working hours and no control mechanisms. The canton of Basel-Stadt has not controlled these employment relationships so far, because the hiring out of personnel or the direct employment of caregivers was not subject to the Working Hours Act.

In the case of the accused Basel agency, according to VPOD, the maximum working and rest time regulations were not regulated in the employment contract. VPOD therefore filed a complaint before the court in Lausanne and was very successful! In its ruling, the Federal Court stated that it is possible to control compliance with working hours and rest periods at the placement agency and thus apply the Working Hours Act. An exemption still applies to private households – no Working Hours Act applies here.

VPOD now calls for the control of placement agencies by the cantons and for appropriate sanctions in case of violations of the Working Hours Act. The ruling of the Federal Supreme Court applies to the whole of Switzerland and therefore the control activities should be extended to other cantons.