New calls for workers to be given heat days off as Swiss weather records broken
The Green Party of Switzerland has called for workers to be given days off when the weather gets too warm, arguing that the heat has a negative effect on staff performance and can endanger their health and safety. The demands follow the recent major heatwave in the alpine nation, which has seen weather records smashed across the country.
Workers should be given time off during heatwaves, say Green Party
In a statement, the youth wing of the Green Party noted that, as roads melted and cantons resorted to opening swimming pools for free to help people cope with the heat, the Swiss government did “practically nothing to protect employees.” They argued that “heat not only has a negative effect on workers' ability to concentrate, it also endangers their health and safety”, adding that there were 60.000 heat-related deaths in Europe last year.
Therefore, the party has added a new policy to its manifesto for the Swiss federal elections in October. Under their proposal, workers and students at schools and universities would have to down their tools and pens if the mercury begins to rise excessively. Outdoor workers would have to take the day off if temperatures rise above 30 degrees celsius, while office and indoor-based staff would have to stop work if indoor temperatures rise above 25.
Safety of Swiss workers should come first, party argues
All firms affected by the change would be able to claim compensation automatically via a system akin to the process used to calculate unemployment benefits. They added in the statement that the idea is not pie in the sky either, with Italy having already implemented a similar system for construction, agricultural, hotel and restaurant workers if temperatures rise above 35 degrees.
"It is unacceptable that reckless profit maximisation takes precedence over the safety of workers. The climate crisis is making summers hotter and hotter: we need to take proactive measures to protect people”, noted Margot Chauderna, co-president of the Young Greens Switzerland.
Switzerland sees hottest day of 2023
The demands come as Switzerland recorded its hottest day of the year on August 24, with the mercury rising to 39,3 degrees in Geneva in the afternoon, according to measurements taken from MeteoNews. The reading smashed the previous record for 2023 of 37,6 degrees, which was set in Chur on July 11, and is only 0,4 degrees colder than the all-time record for the city set in 2015.
As a result, Geneva’s Department of Education has cancelled school on the afternoons of August 24 and August 25.
Heat records broken across Switzerland, but rain is close
In Lausanne on the night of August 22, another record was broken: temperatures overnight did not fall below 24,1 degrees, the highest nocturnal temperature ever recorded in the region. In Bern, it has never been so hot for so long since 1864.
Luckily, the sky-high temperatures seen across this week are starting to fade away, with almost the entire country forecasted to see heavy rain and thunderstorms over the weekend. Temperatures should drop precipitously over the next week, down to 15 degrees in some areas by the time September rolls around.