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Switzerland agrees to cap vacation days

A general view of Davos at dusk on January 10, 2012 in Davos, Switzerland. The Swiss public recently voted down an offer to get an additional two weeks of vacation each year, which may mean less chalet time.

David Brancaccio: Who wants more time off, raise your hand. No? In a national vote, the Swiss just decided against making employers give all workers an extra two weeks of paid vacation every year.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.


Stephen Beard: The Swiss already get a minimum of four weeks paid vacation. They were asked what seems like a silly question: Do  you want two weeks more? In any other country, it would be a silly question -- but not in Switzerland. They've just voted a resounding "no."

Tony Ganzer is an American journalist based in Zurich.

Tony Ganzer: Two thirds of voters said, 'No,  I don't want more vacation. I want to do good work. I want to be proud in that, I don't need extra vacation.'

It's not just the Swiss work ethic in operation. Critics of the measure said it would drag down the Swiss economy -- and at a time when exports and tourism have been hit by the soaring value of the franc.

A  spokesman for Swiss industry said the referendum result was not  a surprise. This isn't Greece, he said, this is Switzerland.

In London, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.    

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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I don't see why the government would even regulate how much time off you or your business can take. This seems like a private matter between adults not any business of the government. A business will make the choice that is best for attracting the best people who will make the business the most money. People will choose to work for places that best take care of them.

We definitely need more time-off in the U.S. Not only is it better for families and people's health, but it supports recreation and leisure industries as well and puts people to work in that way.

The reason for this referendum is that vacation time is a legislated national standard, unlike in the US where it can be unlimited (e.g., Zappos), two weeks, or none at all.

The best that I have ever seen is a 'flexible time off' policy of two days per month (or one every 15 days), 24 days a year, that can be holiday or sick days or whatever.

Also, I recall reading about an IRS policy that allows your unused time (in use it or lose it policies) to be paid into your 401K, not subject to the annual contribution cap.

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