Cross-border workers in Switzerland left in limbo over home working rules

Cross-border workers in Switzerland left in limbo over home working rules

Employers' associations in Switzerland have discovered that cross-border workers - workers who have jobs in Switzerland but live abroad - could be committing a criminal offence in some cantons if they continue to work from home.

Lack of agreement between Swiss cantons, France and Germany

The Swiss Employers Confederation has discovered that international companies and Swiss businesses that employ cross-border workers from France and Germany will face major issues once the mandate to work from home is lifted in all three nations. In their attempt to create a guide for cross-border workers on how to work from home after the end of the pandemic, they discovered that employers may have to break the law.

The origins of the story date back to 2019, when France modified its tax code meaning that previous agreements with Swiss cantons were scrapped. Once the mandate to work from home is lifted, the association found that many cantons have not signed an official agreement on how cross-border workers will be treated if they choose to work from home

Current tax law does not take home working into account

Geneva, for example, is yet to sign an official agreement with France, meaning that if a Swiss employer wants a cross-border worker to work from home, he is required to pay French taxes and the company should employ a tax accountant in France to handle the payments. However, Swiss law prohibits this, meaning that either Swiss finance law or French tax law is violated when working from home is approved.

92.000 cross-border workers commute from France to work in Geneva. The canton, along with Fribourg and Aargau, say it is in constant discussions with France and Germany over how to resolve the problem and decide on how home working will operate in the future.

Other cantons have imposed strict limits on how much time a cross-border worker can spend telecommuting, with Basel Stadt limiting working hours at home to only 20 percent of total hours worked, meaning that workers need to come to the office four out of five working days in order to continue being a cross border permit holder. The government in Basel indicated that from July, someone who works more than 25 percent at home must pay the taxes and social security payments of where they are resident, not Switzerland.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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