How new changes in Switzerland around working from home will impact workers

Whether you are a permanent resident in Switzerland or a cross-border worker, this is what you should know about the new employment recommendations.

How new changes in Switzerland around working from home will impact workers
Return to work will mean more traffic. Photo by AFP

On June 19th, the Federal Council announced the end of the state of emergency in Switzerland.

Among the measures that are being lifted from Monday is the recommendation issued in mid-March for employers  to favour home-working for their employees.

This strategy was in line with the lockdown measures implemented by the government to ensure that people stayed at home to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Only employees deemed to be ‘essential’ to the public health or the country’s economy were required to be physically present at work.

However, last week the Federal Council said that on-site work is now allowed.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What changes in Switzerland today as coronavirus restrictions are eased? 

“The recommendation to work from home is to be lifted, as are the guidelines on protecting people at especially high risk. These individuals may also return to the workplace”, the authorities said.

Employers are, however, obliged to take the necessary measures to protect the health of their employees, in accordance with the Swiss Labour Law, the Federal Council added. 

What about the cross-border workers?

If you have been working from home from your home in France, Italy, or Germany, and your employer now wants you back in your workplace in Switzerland, you should have no more problems crossing the border than you had before the health crisis.

During the lockdown, the commute across the borders was slow because many crossings were closed and controls were in place at checkpoints. 

But since borders with the neighbouring countries and with other Schengen area nations were re-opened on June 15th, the bottlenecks at crossings are not as frequent. 

If you have been working from home these past weeks, you will likely hear from your employer — or perhaps you have been contacted already — regarding your return to the workplace. 

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland