New data released the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this Thursday shows that the number of frontier workers employed in Switzerland has gone up by nearly 5 percent at the end of last year when compared to the same period in 2018.
That figure comprises nearly 329,000 people who come from Italy, France and Germany to work in Switzerland every day. Just over half of all cross-border commuters live in France (54.8 percent); the rest commute from Italy (23.4 percent) and Germany (18.4 percent).
According to FSO, the majority of frontier workers (220,266) are employed in the tertiary sector, which includes service and retail industries.
Over 106,000 work in the secondary sector, which is manufacturing and assembly. The smallest number, 2,073, have jobs in the primary sector — for example, processing raw materials into a finished product.
These foreigners are holders of the cross-border work permit G, entitling them to work for one year in the border zone of the issuing canton. They must return to their main residence abroad at least once a week.
However, even though they don’t reside in Switzerland permanently, they still need to take out Swiss health insurance, and follow special rules concerning taxes, unemployment benefits, driving, and financial services.
Several months ago The Local explained these sometimes-complex regulations, which vary according to the worker's country of residence.
These foreign employees like working for Swiss companies because they earn considerably higher wages than they would in their own homelands for comparable jobs. And since they don’t live in Switzerland full time, they don’t have to deal with its notoriously high cost of living.
Cross-border commuters can be employed in Switzerland thanks to a bilateral agreement that the government signed with the countries of the European Union. It allows EU nationals free access to the Swiss labour market.