• Insights

Switzerland – What’s new in employment law in 2019

Written by
Blesi & Papa, specialists in Swiss employment, pensions and social security law.
This article summarises the most important developments anticipated in Swiss employment law in 2019.

Total revision of the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection and amendment of other enactments relating to data protection

As a result of technical developments and the European reform of the laws on data protection, Swiss federal and cantonal legislation on data protection is currently under revision. The European General Data Protection Regulation ‘GDPR’ (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) will not be adopted as such, but autonomously implemented into Swiss law. The proposed amendment to the Federal Act on Data Protection seeks to improve data protection for individuals by demanding greater transparency in data processing and control mechanisms as well as strengthened supervision and sanctions. Furthermore, cross-border disclosure of data will be made easier. Federal as well as cantonal legislators have been delayed in this process due to resistance in the industry, mainly against the level of penalties. The proposed revision of the Act is currently with the Parliament. It is not expected to be enacted before 2020.

Duty to report vacancies

As a result of the public initiative ‘against mass immigration’, which was accepted by a majority of Swiss voters in 2014, a system of preferred treatment for registered unemployed people was enacted in July 2018. It aims at protecting the domestic market and obliges employers in industries where the unemployment rate is 8% or higher, to notify vacancies exclusively to the public job agencies for five days. This gives registered unemployed people a time advantage to apply for the job on their own initiative, and the public job agencies may also submit application files. Suitable applicants must then be invited to a job interview or assessment. The threshold of 8% will drop to 5% as of 1 January 2020.

New legislation to reduce gender pay gap

New legislation to reduce the gender pay gap has been proposed and passed the Parliament in December 2018. Employers of at least 100 employees will be obliged to make an internal analysis regarding equal pay for equal work every four years. This analysis must then be submitted to an independent review. Within one year from the review, the results of the analysis must be communicated in writing to the staff or, if the company is listed on a stock exchange, included in the annual report. If and when the new law will enter into force has not yet been determined.

Legislation on whistleblowing

In September 2018, following lengthy preliminaries, the Swiss Federal Council proposed a revised version of new legislation to regulate whistleblowing by amending the Swiss Code of Obligations. It sets forth the conditions under which an employee is permitted to report irregularities and the employer’s duty to act within a certain period of time. It further protects employees who report irregularities in compliance with the law against dismissal. The revised proposal has not yet passed Parliament. If and when it will be enacted is therefore not yet clear.

Changes to the Swiss Federal Act on Employment in Trade and Industry

Several motions are pending in the Swiss Parliament demanding substantial changes to the Swiss Federal Act on Employment in Trade and Industry. Their aim is to soften the rules on working hours, rest periods, night and Sunday work, and to provide for certain exemptions for specific categories of employees or businesses. The matter is highly debated and faces strong opposition from trade unions and left-wing political parties. What changes, if any, will be adopted is uncertain.

Roberta Papa
Partner - Switzerland
Blesi & Papa