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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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier