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Who can continue to work from home in Switzerland?

Who can continue to work from home in Switzerland?
No, masks are no longer required in a workplace.Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Switzerland has lifted the working from home requirement, meaning that employers are free to demand their staff return to the premises. But some people are exempt. 

Among the new relaxed measures that went into effect on June 26th and 28th, working from home is no longer an obligation, though the government still recommends it wherever it is possible. 

This means a company is allowed to order its home-based employees to return to the office.

However, not all employees can be forced to return to the workplace; those considered to be “vulnerable” due to medical conditions, are exempted from this rule.

This exemption applies to people deemed “at risk” because of serious health problems — for instance, those suffering from weakened immunity, cardiovascular conditions, or other chronic illnesses that would put them at risk in the workplace.

Pregnant women are also included in this group.

In all cases, a medical certificate is needed to allow these groups of people to continue teleworking.

READ MORE: ‘Home office’: Will the pandemic change the way Switzerland works?

Companies can only order employees to return to work if adequate protection measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus among co-workers.

That may be difficult to comply with, as masks are no longer be required in the workplace, with employers free to decide whether masks should be worn or not, based on employers’ duty to ensure their staff are sufficiently protected against the virus.

“Employers still have a duty to ensure that staff are protected, but are free to decide where and when masks should be worn”, the government said. 

Mandatory testing schemes in the workplace have also been dropped. 

That in itself may be a valid reason to keep vulnerable people away from the office.

Additionally, controls of measures implemented by companies to protect their workers are lacking, according to Luca Cirigliano of Swiss Trade Union Federation.

“It is no secret that the Swiss labour inspectorates are under-staffed and have so far focused on high-risk sectors or only go into a company upon notification of rule breaking”, he said.

However, the Swiss Employers Association denied that offices pose additional health risks.

“There are many indications that working at a workplace with a protection concept is no more dangerous than working at home”, said Fredy Greuter, the association’s spokesperson.

READ MORE: Back to work: A refresher on Swiss office culture to make sure you fit in

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