For members


What you should know about Switzerland ending the work-from-home obligation

The obligation to work from home that was implemented in Switzerland on January 18th will be lifted at the end of May.

What you should know about Switzerland ending the work-from-home obligation
On-the-job testing will become mandatory for the time being. Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP

Home working was made compulsory in January due to the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland.

Under those rules, anyone who could work from home has been obligated to do so. 

But when the Federal Council announced the easing of some restrictions on May 31st, it said that, given a favourable epidemiological evolution, working from home will become a recommendation rather than a requirement.

READ MORE: Switzerland to open indoor restaurants and allow larger events by end May

But one condition was put in place: this can only happen if businesses carry out regular testing of their employees, even though, as Health Minister Alain Berset conceded, “this is an administrative burden”.

Some questions arise about the new rule.

Who will pay for the tests?

In order to further reduce the hurdles for testing in companies, the federal government assumes not only the costs, but will also pay the pooling costs.

In pooling, the saliva or the smears of several test persons are taken together and instead of five individual samples, a collective sample is analysed. If the test turns out positive, additional screening is carried out on the retained samples.

How often does a company have to test?

Fosca Gattoni, deputy head of the therapeutic products law section at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), said that the companies have to test all employees at least once a week.

Do  employees have to come to the office earlier to be tested?

It takes around 15 minutes until a test result is available and the employees can go to the office. Whether the testing is based on working hours or not is up to employers.

Also, the rules of hygiene and behaviour, such as a general mask requirement, still apply for the time being.

These are only temporary measures, however.

“Once everyone who so wishes has been vaccinated, the rules on working from home will be eased without further restrictions. The rules to protect people at high risk in the workplace will be extended”, the Federal Council said.

READ MORE: Reader question: How do I prove in Switzerland that I’ve been vaccinated abroad?

Member comments

  1. Nothing I have read recently reassures me that the Swiss authorities even now, fully comprehend the vulnerability of citizens and the real danger of the Covid 19 virus.
    Increase the programme of vaccination, and be vigilant in testing in schools, as children too can be carriers. The pandemic is not yet over.

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For members


Unmarried couples: How can I visit my partner in Switzerland?

Since the start of the pandemic, unmarried couples have found it difficult to reunite in Switzerland. Here are the documents you need to visit your partner.

Unmarried couples: How can I visit my partner in Switzerland?
A couple enjoys a shared fondue in Switzerland. Photo: STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

Before the pandemic, visiting your partner in Switzerland involved little more than the money for a flight and perhaps a tourist visa. 

Since March, 2020 however, Switzerland has tightened the rules for entry – which has meant many couples found it challenging or even impossible to see each other. 

While the rules were originally so strict that only married couples could reunite in Switzerland, this was relaxed in August of 2020. 

READ MORE: Unmarried partners again allowed into Switzerland

In order to do so however, unmarried couples will need to ‘prove’ their relationship to satisfy Swiss authorities. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

How can I visit my boyfriend or girlfriend in Switzerland?

First things first, your citizenship and where you are arriving from will be crucially important. 

If you are a Swiss citizen or resident, then there will be no issues. You can come to Switzerland at any time.

If they live in a EU / Schengen state or in the small European states like Andorra, the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino, they can come for a visit as well. 

More information is available at the following link. 

UPDATED: Who can travel to Switzerland right now?

How can people from outside Europe visit their partners in Switzerland? 

For non-Schengen countries, you’ll need to do the following. 

Generally speaking, these people are not allowed to enter Switzerland at the moment, except for a handful of nations deemed low-risk, including Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand.

However, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) does have exceptions for families and partners of Swiss residents.

This what the SEM website says:

“Entry by the immediate family members of a Swiss citizen who are registered with a Swiss foreign representation and are entering Switzerland with that Swiss citizen for a stay here does not require authorisation. Immediate family means the Swiss citizen’s spouse or registered partner and minor children (including step-children). In certain circumstances it also includes unmarried partners”.

SEM then goes on to specify entry rules for unmarried partners:

Entry to visit a partner to whom one is not married or in a registered partnership with and with whom one does not have children is possible if:

  • The person wishing to enter the country has an invitation from the partner living in Switzerland and the partner is a Swiss citizen or has a short-stay permit, temporary or permanent residence permit.
  • Confirmation of the existing partnership is submitted. This can be a document confirming the relationship which has been signed by both partners. 
  • Proof can be given that at least one face-to-face visit or meeting took place in Switzerland or abroad.
  • Entry is not permitted on the basis of a mere holiday acquaintance.
  • Proof must be given that a relationship has already lasted for some time and is regularly cultivated. The persons concerned must provide credible evidence that they have been in regular contact.

How do I prove someone is my partner to visit Switzerland? 

There are no hard and fast rules as to which documents will be sufficient, but the government wants to be convinced that this is a “long-term relationship which is cultivated on a regular basis”, with no definition of “cultivation”. 

The SEM provides some examples, including “documents that document a long-term civil partnership (for example, letters and e-mails, social media, telephone bills, flight tickets, photos); Evidence such as a copy of your passport with entry and exit stamps that at least one mutual personal visit or meeting has taken place in Switzerland or abroad.”

One couple speaking with Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes said they used instagram photos as evidence of their relationship at the suggestion of the SEM. 

A couple sits above the clouds in Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Are there any exceptions? 

There are other exemptions as well, which SEM defines as “cases of special necessity”.

They include people coming to Switzerland because a close relative is dying; to visit close relatives who have medical emergency; to continue essential medical treatment; or for important family events like funerals, weddings or births.

The full list of exceptions and other entry-related information for visitors from third countries can be found here. 

If your family or partner are eligible based on the above exceptions,  they may need a visa to enter Switzerland, depending on their country of residence. They have to apply for one at the Swiss foreign representation in their country, explaining and documenting why they are a case of special necessity.

In certain cases, the foreign representation may be able to provide documents confirming the situation.

For those who don’t need a visa, the border control officers in Switzerland or at a Schengen airport decide whether the requirements of necessity have been met, SEM said.

Keep in mind that all the above rules apply only to family visits, not general tourism. Rules for third-country tourists are here.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland relax restrictions on international travel?