Geneva and France call for urgent deal on rules for cross-border workers
Officials in Geneva and France have said that there is an urgent need for an agreement on cross border workers, specifically: How can cross border employees work from home without it being illegal?
Cross-border agreement is needed as pandemic rules are phased out
During the COVID pandemic, both France and Switzerland agreed to allow cross-border workers to work from home in order to comply with each government’s COVID restrictions. This proved invaluable to many employees who were unable to cross the border regularly due to entry rules in 2020 and 2021.
The emergency legislation that made this possible is due to expire in June, but officials have so far been unable to come to a compromise on whether the home office should remain possible for those working across borders.
Geneva may have to make homeworking illegal across the border
The issue arises when workers who live in France but have jobs in Switzerland decide to work from home. Technically, this would be considered working in France and be taxed as such, and would prove a headache for employees who would have to pay French taxes - which are significantly higher than Swiss taxes.
Swiss businesses would also have to pay social security, pensions and salaries in France - something that is legally and practically impossible to do under current employment and residence law.
Genevan Finance Minster, Nathalie Fontanet, said that if no agreement is reached, the city will have no choice but to ban cross-border workers from working from home. Her stance is echoed by Geneva’s president and the local council.
French and Swiss negotiators hope a compromise can be reached
Negotiators in Bern and Paris are hoping that a compromise can be met for those who wish to work from home. So far, the proposal from Switzerland is to allow up to 25 percent of working hours to be performed at home. Anything above that limit would be considered illegal.
This has caused much dismay in cross-border communities, with Christian Dupessey, head of the Transfrontier Operational Mission, telling journalists that he would prefer a 40 percent limit.
On the French side, while they agree that an agreement should be made, they are concerned that any agreement should be “region-specific” to prevent workers with Swiss salaries from moving further into France. While an extension to the emergency rules remains a possibility, it is hoped that a permanent agreement can be reached, especially before the French elections in a few weeks' time.
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