Temporary assignment of workers
Workers are temporarily assigned when a company based outside of Switzerland wishes to provide a service on Swiss territory. Here are the details.
What is the temporary assignment of workers?
This refers to the provision of salaried staff by a company havings its domicile or registered office outside of Switzerland so that it can provide a service as part of a contract entered into with the recipient of the service, or for a company located in Switzerland, whether it is a subsidiary or part of the employer’s group. So this can mean a person who:
- habitually works within the territory of a country other than Switzerland
- was hired in a country other than Switzerland
Three examples of temporary assignment:
- A German worker is assigned by a Finnish company for two months to conduct market research in Switzerland.
- An English company assigns one of its directors to its Zurich branch for two years.
- An Austrian worker is hired by a German temp agency. He is appointed to work in Switzerland for 12 months. This entails the indirect hiring of services from overseas to Switzerland. But hiring from overseas to Switzerland is unlawful.
(work.swiss: Unlawful activities undertaken by employment and foreign service hiring agencies, work.swiss: Scenarios for hiring of cross-border services and employment authorized by the LSE)
What procedures should be followed for stays of less than 90 working days?
a) Nationals from the 15 Member States of the EU/EFTA including Cyprus and Malta
The cross-border provision of services, through temporary assignment of a worker for a maximum period of 3 months (90 days) per calendar year is no longer subject to the residence permit system for nationals of the 15 EU and EFTA Member States, including Cyprus and Malta. However, a declaration procedure has been introduced.
An employer who temporarily assigns staff is required to declare this to the relevant cantonal authorities of the place of work if the work in Switzerland lasts for more than eight days per calendar year. Assigned staff working in the construction, civil engineering and construction finishing, landscaping or landscape maintenance, hotel, catering, industrial and domestic cleaning, surveillance and security, itinerant trade (with the exception of fairground merchants and circus operators; sex industry sectors must be declared from the first day of their gainful activity in Switzerland, irrespective of the term of their assignment in Switzerland. (Detailed and updated information can be found on the SEM migrations Secretariat website under Declaration procedure for short-term gainful activities, FAQ – SEM Frequently asked questions).
However, a work permit is required for the provision of services for more than 90 days per calendar year. There exists no right to obtain such a permit. The establishment of permits falls within the responsibilities of Cantons.
Since 1 January 2022, the same conditions are valid for all citizens of EU/EFTA member states including Croatia. The special transitional measures with quotas and restrictions regarding the access to the labour market (priority clause for local workers as well as control of wages and work conditions) no longer apply to Croatian nationals.
Should the immigration of Croatian workers exceed a certain threshold, Switzerland can invoke a safeguard clause and limit the number of permits again from 1 January 2023 and until the end of 2026 at the latest.
You will find additional and updated information on the SEM web page in the tab “Croatia” (Rundschreiben Kroatien (in German) and on Declaration procedure for short-term gainful activities, FAQ – SEM Frequently asked questions)
What procedures should be followed for stays of more than 90 working days?
Temporary stays with a view to providing services not covered by a specific agreement and which extend beyond 90 working days per calendar year are not governed by the bilateral agreement on the free movement of people but must satisfy the requirements in force relating to the labor market in Switzerland (Foreign Nationals Act [FNA], the Order on admission, stays and carrying on a gainful activity [OASA] along with the FNA and OASA directives). If these conditions are met, European citizens will be issued an EU/EFTA residence permit for the duration of the service provision.
What are the procedures in terms of employment law?
Companies wishing to temporarily assign workers in Switzerland must prove that they meet the working and salary conditions prevailing in Switzerland. The Federal Law on workers assigned to Switzerland and the Order on workers assigned to Switzerland, in force since June 1, 2004, establish the minimum working and salary conditions which must be guaranteed for assigned workers by declaring that a certain number of standards currently in force in Switzerland are applicable to such workers. In addition to provisions on minimum pay, these companies must also respect the rules relating to worker protection (particularly concerning working hours and breaks, health and safety at work as well as the protection of pregnant women and new mothers). All of these conditions are regularly checked and penalties may be imposed if they are not respected (Entsendung von Arbeitnehmenden in die Schweiz (only in german), National wage calculator of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Allgemeinverbindlicherklärung von Gesamtarbeitsverträgen: Weisungen über Beiträge (only in german), Employee protection).
What are the procedures in terms of social security?
In terms of social security, assignment consists of temporary posting to another State with continuation of the social security scheme of the assigning State. Under Regulation (EEC) No. 1408/71 of June 14, 1971, the affiliation of a worker with the social security regime of the State of origin may be continued for the duration of the assignment to another country for a maximum period of 12 months. To do this, workers must be in possession of a portable document (Form E101 or E102 as applicable) which shall serve as a certificate of assignment and therefore of affiliation with the social security scheme in the State of origin. These forms are available online or from the social security agencies of EU/EFTA countries (Vollzug Sozialversicherungen (only in german), Posted workers (FSIO), EU social security coordination , Practical guide on the applicable legislation in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and in Switzerland).