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EMPLOYMENT

UPDATED: Can you be fired in Switzerland if you refuse the Covid-19 vaccine?

There has been a lot of talk lately about privileges that Swiss authorities could grant to those who have had their coronavirus shots. But what if you choose not to be vaccinated?

UPDATED: Can you be fired in Switzerland if you refuse the Covid-19 vaccine?
Employment may depend on the vaccination status. Photo by AFP

Central to the return of some degree of normality in Switzerland is the introduction of a Covid-19 certificate, which provides certain privileges for vaccinated people, along with those who have recovered from the virus. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

While the government has frequently reiterated that the vaccine is and will remain voluntary, the introduction of the Covid certificate has meant that certain industries will require their customers and clients to show a valid certificate – which of course means that staff will also need to possess the certificate. 

For instance, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen but will require a Covid certificate from June 26th – meaning of course that staff will also need said certificate, to ensure everyone is immune to the virus. 

But what could happen if you don’t want to get the shot — can your employer fire you?

If you work for a private company, employers “can make a distinction between vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees, especially for those who pose a security risk through frequent contact with other people”, Daniella Lützelschwab, a representative of an employers’ association, said to Swiss tabloid Blick.

Lützelschwab added that a company could decide to transfer unvaccinated employees to another location, where they are not in contact with other workers.

However, if relocation is not possible, the employer “must give an employee a deadline within which they should get vaccinated”.

If he or she still refuses, the company can dismiss them, on the grounds that they don’t support the employer in implementing health protection measures in the workplace.

“That is why I consider advantages for people who have been vaccinated to be permissible”, ”said Nicole Vögeli Galli, lecturer at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

This also applies to people who have been working from home but will soon return to the workplace, as the Federal Council has dropped the requirement to work from home from June 26th

Whether or not you will be able to go back to your office also depends on your vaccination status.

“If the vaccination is necessary in the context of health protection, non-vaccinated people are not allowed to return,” Vögeli Galli said.

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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