Calls for three-day working week to relieve Swiss healthcare workers
A technology consultant in Switzerland has called for the introduction of a “60 percent” workload system for workers in Swiss healthcare. Swiss trade unions have also begun to call for shorter working hours in order to improve work-life balance and reduce burnouts.
Unions call for shorter hours and higher pay post-COVID
The central secretary of the Swiss Association of Public Service Personnel (VPOD), Elvira Wiegers, demanded that healthcare workers on full-time work contracts should be given fewer working hours while maintaining the same salary. During the pandemic’s peak, hospitals were under great strain due to a shortage of nursing staff. The union hopes to attract more people to the profession, and thus combat staff shortages, by offering shorter working hours for the same pay.
Arnaldo Urbanetti, a management and tech consultant from Lucerne, has gone one step further, advocating a “60 percent, three-day week” for healthcare workers. This would mean doctors and nurses would only work for three days a week while receiving the same wages.
Speaking to Medinside, Urbanetti claimed, “The aim of this model is, on the one hand, to relieve hospital staff, and on the other hand, it is about increasing the attractiveness of professions in the health sector.” He said that he was aware of the potential costs, but argued that the follow-up costs for overworked staff and staff shortages were higher.
Better work-life balance needed for Swiss healthcare workers
Wiegers echoed the comments, saying that a better work-life balance was essential, as healthcare workers are currently having to work harder than ever. She called for extra benefits, particularly for workers with families and children, like free childcare. Yvonne Ribi, from the Swiss Association for Nursing Science, found the proposals interesting, “but not developed enough.”
Swiss politicians have supported the idea of a three-day working week, with National Councillor Katharina Prelicz-Huber saying, "You have to win back the trained nursing staff with attractive working conditions." Even hospital associations like H+ The Hospitals of Switzerland see the advantages of the idea, but they note that “the financial room for manoeuvre for hospitals and clinics is very limited."
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