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Short-time work is a temporary reduction or complete discontinuation of working hours in a company. In times of economic crisis, short-time work can be a helpful instrument for the employer to counter the resulting drop in orders. The purpose of short-time work is, among other things, to preserve jobs in a company and to avoid redundancies. However, short-time work is only referred to when the loss of working hours is more than 10%. In this case, the employee continues to be paid for the hours he/she has worked, and for the hours lost, a short-time work compensation of 80% of the loss of earnings is paid by the unemployment insurance.

In the event of an economic crisis, short-time work cannot be decided by the employer without further ado, but is subject to certain conditions. In light of the current situation regarding coronavirus, specific requirements for short-time work are mentioned.

First of all, a distinction must be made as to whether the loss of working hours is the result of an official measure (e.g. cordoning off cities) or whether it is due to economic reasons (e.g. fear of infection):

  • If, in the case of an official measure, the employers concerned are unable to avoid the loss of working hours by economically viable and appropriate measures or cannot hold a third party liable for the damage, these losses are compensated by the short-time work compensation.
  • In the case of economic reasons, compensation is paid if the loss of working hours is unavoidable. They must be the result of a cyclical or structural trigger that causes a decline in demand or sales.

In all constellations, the following requirements must also be fulfilled (cf. Art. 31 et seq. AVIG):

  • the employment relationship may not be terminated;
  • the loss of work is likely to be temporary and it can be expected that jobs can be maintained by short-time working;
  • the working time can be controlled;
  • the loss of work accounts for at least 10 percent of the working hours per accounting period;
  • the loss of working hours is not caused by circumstances that are part of the normal operational risk (according to SECO, the effects of the coronavirus are not part of the normal operational risk).

A general reference to the coronavirus is not enough to make a claim for compensation for short-time work. The employer must provide a credible explanation as to why the loss of working hours to be expected in their company is attributable to the coronavirus (adequate causal link).

Any claim for compensation for short-time work must be registered with the competent cantonal office at the place of business.

We will be happy to assist you in claiming compensation for short-time work.


Arbeitslosenversicherungsverordnung (PDF, 145 kB)

Verordnung 2 über Massnahmen zur Bekämpfung des Coronavirus (COVID-19)(PDF, 120 kB)