In many Swiss hospitals, mandatory labour laws are a 'dead
letter': 52% of doctors do not adhere to the maximum weekly
working time of 50 hours, which has been in force since 2005. This
information was provided by a study carried out by a doctors'
union, the Association of Swiss Medical Assistants (ASMA). On
average, physicians who work full time (100% pensum) work 55 hours
per week. This is true regardless of whether they are employed by a
university, cantonal or regional hospital. In particular, the
self-declared workload of assistant doctors and surgeons is
exceptionally high. A high-ranking hospital manager recently
reported in the media that a 90-hour working week is not
Around 3,300 out of ASMA's 13,000 members participated in a
2016 online survey conducted by the association. It is important to
consider that doctors who are dissatisfied with their work are more
likely to be outspoken. That said, ASMA spokesman Marcel Marti
stated that the results reflect the realities of the situation, and
that the numbers are corroborated by feedback from ASMA
The doctors' union carried out an earlier analogous survey
in 2013, but little has changed since then. Doctors still do not
report a portion of their working hours – an average of 2.6
hours per week. A small improvement is that a majority of the
interviewed doctors are no longer working more than seven days in a
row, something which was also a clear violation of mandatory Swiss
From the point of view of the hospital association H+, high
workloads are also caused by the significant administrative work
that doctors must increasingly perform. According to H+, health
insurers, the cantons and the Federal Offices for Health and
Statistics are also to blame, as these bodies require increased
reporting duties. H+ has stated that one possible solution would be
to delegate more work to medically trained administration
Against this background, hospital doctors continue to complain
about their workload. Two out of three say that they feel
physically and emotionally exhausted. Patients also suffer, as
professional malpractice results from overwork. Malpractice
stemming from overwork is generally acknowledged, despite there
being no reliable data on this topic.
Originally published by International Law Office.
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