Working on weekends or public holidays - what applies?

Our little shop was open on the last Sunday in Advent. We are considering doing this again in the future in order to at least partially make up for the lost sales. What do we have to consider with regard to our employees and when can we employ them on weekends or public holidays?

As communicated in the media, the rule for the last Sunday in Advent was a big exception: after Rest of Work Act allowed employees generally not on weekends get busy. Rather, it is Weekend rest to grant that 36 hours and usually start at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the latest. It may end at midnight on Sunday at the earliest and must cover the entire Sunday.

Likewise have employees on public holidays in principle entitled to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 24 hourswhich must start no earlier than midnight and no later than 6 a.m. of the public holiday.

Employment on weekends or public holidays is therefore a must always only as an exception permissible. Such exceptions are possible through (i) a company agreement, (ii) an exception in the Rest Period Act (e.g. for finishing, cleaning, maintenance work), (iii) an ordinance of the responsible minister (Restraint Work Ordinance, here there is e.g. exceptions in the field of tourism, culture or health care), (iv) a regulation by the governor (this is the case, for example, in many tourist regions) or (v) collective agreement.

The possibility of individually agreeing an exception at the company level has existed since autumn 2018 and although it offers flexibility, it is per employee on four weekends or bank holidays per year limited. If a works council is elected, the exception must be permitted by a works agreement. If there is no works council, the exception can be agreed in writing with the individual affected employee.

What does that mean in financial terms? On a public holiday, every employee, regardless of whether they are employed on the public holiday or not, receives their full monthly salary. Anyone who actually works receives an additional payment in the amount of the normal hourly rate for every hour worked on the public holiday Holiday pay. Usually it is twice as much as on a regular working day. Collective agreements can provide for additional surcharges, especially for overtime.

work on Sundays is generally to be paid at the normal hourly wage according to the law. If the normal weekly working hours have already been exceeded, overtime at least with a 50 percent surcharge are to be remunerated. Here too, however, many collective agreements provide for higher surcharges. For example, every work performed on Sunday, December 19, 2021, in addition to the basic hourly pay, was to be paid with an overtime bonus of 100 percent.

In addition to the possibilities of employing staff, the restrictive shop opening times, which in practice often prevent opening on weekends or public holidays, must also be observed – especially in the retail sector.

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