Nationals from EU and EFTA states benefit from the free movement of persons. Employees from these countries thereby enjoy the same rights and benefits as Swiss nationals on the Swiss labour market.
The Free Movement of Persons and Labour Relations Division (PA) makes an important contribution to the implementation of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons by supervising the accompanying measures against wage and social dumping and by monitoring the labour market. In this regard, the accompanying measures, the Declaration of General Applicability of Collective Agreements, the supervision of private employment agencies and the fight against illegal employment are particularly important.
Accompanying measures against wage and social dumping
The accompanying measures serve to protect employees against wage and social dumping, which could occur with the free movement of persons. As a specialised unit of the federal government we monitor the implementation of the instruments of the accompanying measures by the cantons and the social partners. The accompanying measures are used to check whether domestic and foreign employers are adhering to the standard wages and working conditions applicable for the corresponding area and sector, as well as to the minimum wage and working conditions stipulated in collective agreements for which a Declaration of General Applicability has been issued. The accompanying measures essentially comprise the following:
- The federal act on employees posted to Switzerland (Posted Workers Act) imposes an obligation on foreign employers who send employees to work in Switzerland to comply with the minimum wage and working conditions applicable in Switzerland.
- The simplified General Applicability of Collective Agreements and Standard Employment Agreements can be used to introduce binding minimum wages in the event of abusive undercutting of standard wage and working conditions applicable for the area and the sector.
The accompanying measures came into force on 1 January 2004. To date the accompanying measures have been reinforced twice in line with the expansion of the EU through the addition of new Member States.
We provide the general public with all the relevant information on the accompanying measures, thereby ensuring the necessary transparency. For example, the Internet platform www.entsendung.admin.ch contains all the necessary information on Swiss wage and working conditions. This is to the benefit of both the employees as well as employers in Switzerland and abroad. We also ensure that these are implemented on an equal basis in the cantons. In this context significant importance is attached to the further training that we offer the cantonal implementation agencies.
As a technical agency we inform the general public about and raise its awareness of the negative consequences of illegal employment and monitor the implementation of the Federal Act on Measures to Combat Illegal Employment which came into force on 1 January 2008.
The aim of the new act is to combat illegal employment in an efficient and pragmatic way. Simplified administrative procedures for paying social insurance and taxes are intended to offer employers an incentive to declare their employees’ wages even for smaller activities, such as household tasks.
In addition, cantonal control authorities were established with the act, these authorities employing inspectors. The act also provides for the exchange of data between the participating authorities.
We are creating the basis for proper cooperation among the authorities, thereby providing the guarantee for a coordinated approach to conducting systematic and efficient checks.
Declaration of General Applicability of Collective Wage Agreements
Our division is also responsible for the implementation of the procedure relating to the Declaration of General Applicability of Collective Wage Agreements. We check whether the statutory requirements for the declaration of general applicability have been met and maintain close contact with the social partners who are responsible for concluding the general wage agreements. With the Declaration of General Applicability, the provisions of a general works agreement apply to all companies within a sector. Some provisions (e.g. relating to minimum wages and working hours) also apply to companies who have registered offices abroad and who send employees to work in Switzerland. The collective agreements for which a Declaration of General Applicability has been issued are therefore of significant importance for the accompanying measures.
Federal Mediation Board for resolving collective labour disputes
We also manage the Secretariat of the Federal Mediation Board for the Resolution of Collective Labour Disputes. The Federal Mediation Board is a government mediation body which is consulted only at the express wish of the parties involved and only if all attempts to reach agreement between the parties (employer or employer organisations and trade unions) through direct negotiation have been unsuccessful.
Private employment agencies and recruitment services
As a specialist unit of the federal government we are responsible for monitoring private employment agencies and recruitment services within the framework of the Recruitment and Hiring of Services Act. We grant federal placement and hiring permits to companies that provide cross-border services. We also manage the directory of authorised employment agencies and recruitment services. We work in close cooperation with the cantonal offices to enforce this Act.
We work to ensure the uniform enforcement of the Recruitment and Hiring of Services Act and to protect the employees who use the services of private employment agencies or recruitment services.
Economic and international matters
We are the centre of excellence for immigration in the SECO. We deal with matters relating to immigration and emigration – in particular in connection with the treaty on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU. We also deal with matters relating to the Aliens Act (citizens of third party states) as well as the policy on asylum. We are also responsible for the immigration network within the SECO.