The new Corona variant ensures mass quarantine. Small companies in particular suffer from lost working hours and in some cases even have to close. That could result in high economic costs.

Omikron rolls across Switzerland and leads to many failures in the workplace.

 Omicron wave could lead to billions in failures in the economy

Over 118,000 People are currently in quarantine or isolation.

Omikron- The wave could lead to billions in failures in the economy

The failures are a heavy burden on companies.

That's what

  • Thousands are currently in quarantine.

  • Planning is becoming more and more difficult for companies.

  • Compensation for the quarantine period is also a matter of dispute.

The Omikron variant is rolling over Switzerland: over 118,000 people are currently stuck at home in quarantine or isolation, as reported by the BAG. Because some cantons, such as Zurich, did not provide any figures over the festive period, the truth is that there are many more.

The many absences are a stress test for the Swiss economy. Because a good half of employees cannot simply continue working from home in the quarantine. “There is a risk of significant setbacks for the Swiss economy,” says Martin Eichler, chief economist at the Basel research institute BAK Economics.

In the case of quarantine, there is a risk of total failure

Companies are particularly expensive when experts fail: “That can lead to total failure,” says Eichler. Certain companies would then have to close. In the worst case, the Omikron wave will cost Switzerland several billion francs.

For example, the first restaurants and hotels have already had to close due to a lack of staff. The quarantine failures hit smaller companies particularly hard, as Roland M. Rupp, President of the Swiss SME Association explains.

«I should close the shop»

“In a craft business with three people, the loss of one person can mean that orders can no longer be completed on time,” says Rupp. The corona crisis is therefore much worse than some people think, especially for the smaller SMEs and sole proprietorships.

“I would have to close my shop if I had to go into quarantine,” says a Zurich hairdresser about 20 minutes. Because she is the only one in her team who works one hundred percent. But every other failure in the team is serious for the small company.

Inconsistent compensation

At the Schaffmacher painting and plastering business, two of the 35 employees are currently in quarantine. “That's not so bad because we painters don't have a season until March,” says owner Daniel Scheffmacher to 20 Minuten. But if a third of the employees were absent, it would be more significant. «That would hardly be easy to organize and the big wave is still to come», says Scheffmacher.

He thinks it is worth discussing that he only receives income from the federal government for employees in quarantine who have been in contact with a sick person but did not get sick themselves. For employees in isolation who have Corona, there is basically daily sickness allowance from the insurance company. “But you are only insured from the 30th day, because otherwise we would have to pay far too high insurance premiums,” says Scheffmacher.

The employers' association also sees this as a problem. “In addition, employees who tested positive, who are symptom-free and therefore not sick, but cannot work in the home office, are uncertain whether their lost hours can be billed via short-time work. If this is not the case, it is legally unclear who has to pay for this wage replacement »says labor law specialist Daniella Lützelschwab.

She finds it unsatisfactory that one makes a distinction between isolation and quarantine, although both are state-decreed measures (see box).

This is how you get money in quarantine and isolation:


  • Anyone who has to be in quarantine because of contact with an infected person and cannot work in the home office receives income replacement daily allowance from the federal government, which is a maximum of 196 francs per day, depending on the wage level.


  • Those who test positive must be in isolation. Self-isolation without official or medical isolation instruction does not trigger continued payment of wages.

  • For employees who are officially ordered to be in isolation, but are symptom-free and therefore not sick, short-time work compensation (KAE) can generally be claimed. However, only if the home office work cannot be carried out and all other requirements for KAE are met, such as a minimum loss of 10 percent in the company or in the company department. For example, there is no money for employees if their working hours cannot be adequately controlled.

  • For an employee who has tested positive and is lying in bed with a temperature of 40 °, the statutory regulation of the employer's obligation to continue paying wages applies, as is the case with other illnesses. If you have daily sickness benefit insurance, it usually pays 80 percent of your wages. Otherwise, the employer has to pay for the wages for a certain period of time, depending on the years of service of the employee.

The employers' association fear high costs for the companies, should it lead to mass quarantine and isolation come. That is why a shortening of the quarantine period from 10 days today is desirable, says Lützelschwab.

In addition, uniform isolation and quarantine rules are needed across Switzerland, because different cantonal regulations would otherwise be difficult to implement for cross-cantonal companies.

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7341

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