Goldman’s Zurich offices visited over working-hours complaint

James Shotter
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

As if banks did not have enough to contend with confronting the new wave of regulation, Goldman Sachs in Zurich is now under investigation for overworking its staff.

The bank's Zurich offices were visited on Wednesday by members of the local labor inspectorate following a complaint two weeks ago by the personnel union for Swiss banks connected to Goldman's timekeeping practices.

(Read more: BofA intern dies, worked 3 straight days: Reports)

The Zurich Office for Economy and Labor (AWA) confirmed a visit had taken place to determine whether Goldman recorded the hours its employees were working. AWA declined to comment on the findings of the investigation as they have not yet been finalized. Goldman also declined to comment.

The visit comes as banks, and the City of London in particular, have come under pressure to reform their hardworking culture following the death of a Bank of America intern in London last month.

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AWA is responsible for ensuring that Swiss rules on working times are observed and is particularly active in sectors such as construction and care where breaches often occur. However, it also intervenes in the services sector in response to specific complaints.

For more than a year, Swiss employers' and employees' organisations have been locked in a dispute over whether companies can stop keeping a record of the hours worked by senior staff, such as team leaders, or those with a high degree of professional autonomy.

Employers' organisations have been pushing for the working conditions of such staff to be made more flexible. Employees' representatives, by contrast, are concerned that this could lead to workers' legal protections being eroded.

(Read more: 'Grueling' bank hours in focus after intern death)

In September last year, the Swiss state secretariat for economic affairs (SECO) put forward a suggestion that employees earning more than SFr175,000 should be exempted from timekeeping requirements.

However, the proposal did not receive sufficient backing from either employees or employers, in particular because the large differences in wage levels between different sectors made a one-size-fits-all salary figure an imprecise way of determining which staff to exempt from timekeeping requirements.

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As a result, SECO said in July this year that it would come up with a more differentiated approach.

The timekeeping practices at Goldman's offices vary around the globe, but generally the company collects information from its employees once a week on the hours they have been working, according to insiders. The information is then stored electronically.

The Swiss banks' personnel union did not respond to requests for comment.