Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US)’s offices in Zurich were visited by regional labor department inspectors yesterday over a complaint about overtime hours.
“There was a complaint from the bank employees union and we’re obligated to investigate complaints,” Irene Tschopp, a spokeswoman for Zurich canton’s labor department, said by phone today, confirming an earlier report in Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. She declined to disclose the contents of the complaint or the inspectors’ findings, citing data protection rules. Monika Schaller, a Goldman Sachs spokeswoman in Frankfurt, declined to comment.
The bank allegedly failed to record employees’ working hours or compensate for overtime in violation of Swiss law, Tages-Anzeiger reported, without saying where it got the information. The inspection came as unions and employers disagree over proposed changes to labor laws that would exempt companies from controlling overtime work of employees above a certain pay level, the newspaper said.
Swiss labor law limits working hours for people employed in industrial plants, offices, large shops and in technical professions to a maximum of 45 hours per week. Any work above that needs to be recorded and compensated by the company. Overtime shouldn’t exceed more than two hours per day except in emergencies and should not amount to more than 170 hours annually, according to the law.
The labor department can file a criminal complaint with public prosecutors if violations are found, Tschopp said. This could then lead to a fine that would be determined by the prosecutors and to a criminal record for company officials responsible for personnel issues, she said.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs started a pilot project in 2009 to review labor laws on time keeping after complaints from the banking industry that the laws for the 45-hour work week were out of date, Marie Avet a spokeswoman for the department, said in a telephone interview from Bern.
The proposed law, which included plans to exempt employees with an income of 175,000 Swiss francs ($188,500) from time keeping requirements, was shelved in July amid too much “controversy” as labor unions and employers couldn’t agree on where rules should be relaxed and where workers should be protected, Avet said. The department is now working on a new draft.
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