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Swiss voters reject 6 weeks paid vacation

Monday, March 12, 2012

BERN—Swiss citizens appear to be leading the way on European austerity, rejecting a minimum six weeks paid holiday a year in a national referendum yesterday. Switzerland counted ballots yesterday for five national referendums, including one pushed by a union to raise the minimum holiday up from four weeks, which is the standard used in Germany, Italy, Russia and other European nations.


The Swiss heeded warnings from government and business that more vacation would raise labour costs and put the economy at risk. Swiss public broadcaster SSR said two-thirds of voters and all of the cantons (states) had rejected the measure, which required majority approval of all federal and cantonal voters.


“In rejecting the initiative, citizens have kept a sense of reality,” said Hans-Ulrich Bigler, director of the Swiss Union of Arts and Crafts, which represents around 300,000 businesses. The referendum, he said in a statement, could have added 6 billion francs (US$6.52 billion) a year in labour costs to the Swiss economy.