Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants

Mirela Stoia (PwC Geneva) made a presentation at a panel discussion on “Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants”, which took place on 19 July 2017 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Background

On 19 July 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted a panel discussion on “Towards a global compact on migration: comprehensive and coordinated initiatives to reduce vulnerability and empower migrants” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The subject of the roundtable was how the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations might be incorporated into the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). The panel members discussed successful mainstreaming in respect of the specific challenges posed by vulnerable populations and how it might be possible to mobilise international coordination to address migration governance. Further topics were the concrete policies and programmes to prevent, address and sustainably resolve migrant vulnerability. The discussion addressed different regional (i.e. ECOWAS) and international approaches (i.e. MICIC) to migrant vulnerability, exploring how such approaches could be integrated as a part of developing and formulating the GCM. The session likewise provided an opportunity to look at the roles of various actors and their mode of engagement, taking account of the need to maximise coordination and cooperation opportunities in a way that avoids duplicating efforts and resources.

Some of this portion of the discussion centred on taking a ‘whole of government’ approach and at looking at the role of civil society in achieving greater inclusion of migrants. The participants focused on what actions they could take to change the narrative surrounding migrant populations and on empowering migrants by proactively seeking to engage with the migrant diaspora communities. Measures for reducing vulnerabilities were also discussed.

The discussion then centred on a consideration of three major areas. The first of these was what roles the different actors play in preventing and addressing migrant vulnerability; the second was how international cooperation and coordinated efforts might be strengthened in order to deal with migrant vulnerability and empower migrants; finally, the group focused on ways in which the multilateral system could foster discussions and consensus on inclusion of these issues in the GCM.

Written statement from a private-sponsor perspective

Introduction

The workshop sought to define the concept of vulnerable migrants, understand what factors excarberate their vulnerabilities, and what actions can be taken to mitigate the issues faced by vulnerable migrants (e.g. racism, marginalisation of migrants and human rights abuses).  From a private-sector perspective, we tend to deal with migrants who arrive in the host country through legitimate and regular routes. Thus, this means that the levels of migrant vulnerability encountered are not the same as the level encountered by those who engage with migrants arriving into a host country as refugees, victims of trafficking, or irregular routes. However, this does not mean to say that migrants arriving to work for a private company through a work-permit operated scheme are not vulnerable. It is simply that the challenges they may face and the means to address those challenges may be slightly different. Nevertheless, it is clear that, whatever the mode of their arrival in the host country, migrants can be empowered through the same means.

Challenges

Migrants coming to a host country in order to take up pre-approved employment or join family members (e.g. spouses) may have the support of their employers and families as well as financial help, but may nevertheless still face challenges resulting in their becoming vulnerable and marginalised members of our communities. Such challenges include racism and xenophobia, language barriers, cultural barriers (for example, not being familiar with the specific local work ethic, working patterns, work processes, day-to-day cultural norms and traditions of the host country, or even something as simple as queueing), administrative processes relating to registration, school, banking, comprehending the requirement to obtain certain types of insurance (e.g. medical insurance, car insurance etc.), understanding operational procedures for obtaining medical and health care services, accessing emergency services, social etiquette for example, engaging socially with work colleagues outside of work etc. and exploitation at work (being underpaid, forced to work overtime etc.).

These challenges are broadly the same as those experienced by migrants arriving via irregular migration routes. However, it is acknowledged that migrants arriving, for example, as refugees or victims of trafficking etc. are more likely to encounter these challenges, and indeed more often than not will find themselves in particularly exposed circumstances, given that they do not have the support structures comprised of their families, colleagues and employers. However, it is important to recognise that even some migrants arriving via regular migration routes may be exposed to harsh challenges, particularly if they are being exploited by unscrupulous employers or are, for example, victims of forced marriage.

Solutions

Private-sector organisations/employers must ensure that they operate processes and policies providing full support and opportunity for migrants to address the challenges they face whilst empowering them to assist others in the same situation. Private-sector organisations/employers must first acknowledge the challenges that may face migrants who are either permanent hires or on international assignment. They then will need to provide a number of services and support schemes. These schemes include such aspects as pre-arrival cultural orientation sessions and full relocation support for migrants arriving in the host country, a local host country HR/Global Mobility contact point with whom migrants can raise their concerns/seek support and guidance, arrival orientation, training and guidance with regarding local customs, work processes and signposting to services such as health care, schools etc.

Organisations and employers should also schedule regular reviews over a 6-12-month period in which the host country HR/Global Mobility contact checks in with the migrant to discuss any concerns, issues, well-being and thereby obtain general feedback. Ongoing communication, training and engagement with all staff regarding diversity and discrimination policies would ensure that migrants feel welcome and host country employees understand the necessity for respect and tolerance.

Organisations and employers should also liaise with government bodies and policy makers by responding to consultations and requests for contribution to policy making to ensure that immigration rules and regulations (both existing and proposed) will not be discriminatory to migrants and will afford the same employment rights (so far as practicable) to migrants as to resident workers. Whereas immigration conditions may be imposed on migrants, it is important for the private sector to advocate for and represent the interests and its migrant workforce vis-à-vis employers so as to ensure migrants do not suffer detriment from a career perspective and any immigration policies allow migrant integration into the host country. Conversely, private-sector organisations/employers should not make recommendations to policy makers that will result in undercutting the resident labour market whilst enabling exploitation of migrant workers. Legislative and government bodies charged with immigration policy making must ensure that whilst incorporating the interests of the private sector into any immigration laws, vulnerabilities faced by migrants will not thereby be exacerbated.

Private-sector organisations/employers must also ensure that there is an educational strategy in place enabling stakeholders to recognise and support particularly vulnerable migrants

employed within the organisation, for example, refugees. Private-sector actors need to be aware of and acknowledge the different support mechanisms necessary to address the vulnerabilities of specific types of migrants, e.g. refugees or victims of trafficking. For example, additional counselling services, confidential advice and support contacts for particularly vulnerable migrants should all be made available. Further, stakeholders involved in the recruitment and retention of particularly vulnerable migrants must have the appropriate training and support available to them so that they can address the vulnerabilities of such migrants whilst enabling their empowerment.

The private sector can play a key role in helping empower migrants through: (1) their internal processes and support procedures; and (2) advocating on behalf of migrants and the value they bring to the workforce. For example, migrants may suffer xenophobia and by advocating on behalf of migrants, private-sector actors can outline the benefits of having a diverse and multicultural workforce that can compete in an increasingly globalised market whilst emphasising migrants’ contribution to the economic and industrial strategy of a host country (e.g. addressing demographic challenges/soft power and cultural and language skills). In doing so, private-sector actors with the power of their brands reassure the public and help to address negative perceptions of migrants which, in turn, can lead to empowering migrants as they will feel more included and integrated into the host community.

It is important for private-sector organisations/employers to share best practice and engage with one another regarding the mechanisms and processes that are able to address migrant vulnerabilities. Sharing best practice at local, national and international levels can lead to a consistent and efficient approach in addressing migrant vulnerabilities and empowering migrants. Private-sector engagement with policy makers at all levels is also important as reviewing practices in other jurisdictions can lead to international cooperation, international coordination of consistent policies, and also avoid duplication of efforts. 

Conclusion

In the last 12-24 months there has been an increased focus on engaging the private sector to take a conceptual leadership role regarding the integration and empowerment of migrants (both regular and irregular). It is crucial that this engagement continue as private-sector organisations can use the power of their brands to support integration and inclusion initiatives as they pertain to migrants. Further, private-sector organisations operate on a global level and can utilise their extensive networks and experience to share best practices and advise on not just the theoretical aspects of addressing migrant vulnerabilities but also the practical steps that can be taken to implement mechanisms empowering migrants. Inclusion of private-sector organisations in multilateral systems, roundtables and conferences is an ideal opportunity for the sharing of ideas with NGOS, government agencies and those operating on the ground.

Furthermore, the private sector can learn from those directly involved in the humanitarian and policy arenas as they relate to migrants. In these areas, private-sector actors can better focus their CSR and HR strategies not just in respect of employing migrants, but also for the benefit of talent recruitment. Specifically, if private-sector actors can better understand the push-and-pull factors which fuel migrant movement from home countries, they can look at their global expansion and business strategies to evaluate whether they can take advantage of and provide opportunities to individuals in jurisdictions which are the focus of any such strategic plans.  This understanding can potentially lead to business growth for private- sector organisations in countries of interest whilst assisting with the economic development of those countries. This understanding can in some ways thereby stem the flow of migration instigated by lack of economic opportunities.

Some impressions of the panel discussion:

Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

Nadia Idries
PwC London
+44 (0) 7930 37 37 42

 

How banks are gearing up for PSD2

With around five months to go, banks don’t have much time left
to make sure they’re compliant with the EU’s revised Payment
Services Directive (PSD2). However, for many financial institutions,
PSD2 is more than just a compliance exercise. It will impact
banks’ strategic positioning and significantly change their risk
profile as they interact with third parties.

Since Switzerland is not a member of the EEA, PSD2 isn’t directly
applicable in this country. But given that Switzerland is a member
of SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area), in the future it will be
required to demonstrate that national rules similar to PSD2 are in
place. There will also be heavy pressure on Swiss banks from the
client side to open up their architecture vis-à-vis third parties.

PwC’s PSD2 team recently conducted a study across the Swiss and
European markets on banks’ readiness to tackle the new rules.
The survey ran from February to June this year, and 38 large
banks responded. The objective was to understand how much
progress regulators in each state had made in terms of transposing
PSD2 into national regulation, the state of play for banks in
relation to implementing PSD2, what opportunities banks felt
PSD2 offered them, and the impact that open data might have on
banks’ systems and infrastructures.

Results of Survey

Read more about PSD2

Get in contact with us:

Günther Dobrauz
Partner, Leader Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 14 97
guenther.dobrauz@ch.pwc.com

Michael Taschner
Senior Manager, Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 10 87
michael.taschner@ch.pwc.com

Philipp Rosenauer
Manager, Legal FS
Regulatory & Compliance Services
+41 58 792 18 56
philipp.rosenauer@ch.pwc.com

What every startup should know about trademarks

As a startup, entrepreneurs spend a lot of time, energy and other resources developing a corporate name, symbols and logo. But they need to safeguard with trademarks these interlocking key elements of their business.

PwC’s dynamic IP team is highly costumer oriented and combines great technical competences together with a desire to provide quality solutions. Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, they love to invest time in understanding new business models. Learn more about their new services entirely dedicated to startups stepping on their entrepreneurial journey by clicking the image below.

Take the first step on your entrepreneurial journey  with PwC

Before registering your company, we can assist you in conducting comprehensive trademark searches to check that you do not infringe another company’s trademark and domain name rights.

Our PwC IP team uses the availability searches as a creative tool, looking at who else is out there in your space with similar names; getting new ideas for names that are different and unique.

Together, we think more broadly, building up a consistent strategy for your company’s name, your house trademark and your web presence through a domain name.

We ensure trademark protection in Switzerland and abroad by registering your trademarks nationally, regionally and internationally.

Finally, we secure core domain names for your company name and for product/service brands that will resonate with customers and your overall branding strategy.

Are you in the phase of creating a start-up? Are you interested?
Take the first step on your entrepneurial journey with PwC and contact Natscha Tsalas for more information.

 

Natascha Tsalas, IP Legal Services Geneva
+41 58 792 98 32 / natascha.tsalas@ch.pwc.com

PwC Legal: Immigration Alert Switzerland (11 May 2017)

New labour market restrictions for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals

Background

As of 1 June 2016, labour market restrictions were lifted for the gainful employment of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals hired locally in Switzerland. Thus, for the past twelve months, citizens of these two countries have had free access to the Swiss labour market.

Under the terms of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), the so-called ‘safeguard clause’ allows the Swiss Government to reintroduce temporary restrictions on the access of Romania and Bulgaria nationals to the Swiss labour market if the number of new arrivals exceeds a certain threshold. Between June 2016 and May 2017, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals applying for long-term work and residence permits exceeded the threshold.

New labour market restrictions

On 10 May 2017, the Swiss Government decided to limit temporarily the number of long-term work and residence permits (B-permits) for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to a maximum of 996 B-permits to be released quarterly over the next 12 months. Short-term L-permits are not affected.

The Swiss Government justified its decision based on the fact that, since June 2016, a large number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals had obtained work permits for seasonal employment in sectors that have above-average unemployment rates.

How does this impact employers/employees?

Romanian and Bulgarian nationals holding B-permits and who will continue to be employed in Switzerland are not affected by the restrictions outlined above. However, the long-term employment of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals not yet residing legally in Switzerland might become more difficult due to the limitation of B-permit quotas to 996 over the next 12 months. Swiss employers may nevertheless continue to employ Romanian and Bulgarian nationals on the basis of short-term L-permits, which are not limited by a quota.

***

PwC will continue to monitor the Swiss immigration authorities’ practice at the federal and cantonal levels very closely, and we will advise all clients about any upcoming changes.

 

Please reach out to us should you wish to have more information on this alert.

 

Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

Martin Zeier
PwC Basel
+41 58 792 52 74
martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com

PwC’s Legal Services – Employment News – Bonuses: gratuity or salary component?

 

ABSTRACT

It is quite common for employee compensation to comprise a basic salary plus a variable component (usually referred to as a “bonus”). As the Swiss legal system does not know the term ‘bonus’ as such, deciding how variable compensation should be categorised legally and whether it qualifies as a gratuity or as part of an employee’s salary, is problematic. Making the distinction involves taking a closer look at both the underlying contractual basis and the company’s practice. What at first seems to be a fairly trivial question of definition turns out to have significant legal implications.

  1. LEGAL CATEGORISATION
    Whether a bonus is to be considered a gratuity, performance pay, profit-sharing or a hybrid depends primarily on how the contract is drafted. But it also depends on the company’s practice when it comes to paying the bonus, and how it relates to the employee’s salary (its accessory nature).

a) Contractual formulation
The key here is whether the bonus can be viewed as a voluntary gratuity, or whether it’s been formulated in such a way that the amount has been determined, or is at least determinable, and is thus no longer at the employer’s discretion. In the first scenario, a bonus can be considered a gratuity. If the amount of the bonus has been determined or is determinable, it’s generally assumed to be a component of salary. For example, a bonus linked solely to operating profit or other specific financials would be determinable. But if a bonus is linked to personal performance targets that have not been measurably formulated respectively the achievement of these targets involves a subjective appraisal, or if its payment (despite the bonus being determinable) is at the employer’s discretion, the bonus should be treated as a gratuity. This also applies if the bonus is paid out by the employer as a completely voluntary special payment.

Continue to read in our current newsletter.

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s legal experts named below.

Martin Zeier
Legal Services
martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com
Myriam Büchi
Legal Services
myriam.buechi-baentli@ch.pwc.com
Christine Bassanello
Legal Services
christine.bassanello@ch.pwc.com

PwC Legal: Immigration Alert UK (30 March 2017)

Article 50 has been formally triggered by the UK government

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon has yesterday been triggered by the government serving as the formal notification of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. Theresa May triggered the official process in a letter to the EU which was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, this afternoon in Brussels.

Key themes from Ms May’s letter to Mr Tusk included:

  • Engaging with one another constructively and respectfully
  • Putting citizens of both the UK and the EU first
  • Working towards securing a comprehensive agreement and working together to minimise disruption
  • Paying particular attention to the Republic of Ireland which is the only land border that the UK has with an EU member state

The letter also makes clear that the UK does not seek membership of the single market and that the EU position that the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible and that there can be no “cherry-picking” is understood and respected.

As previously advised, there will be no immediate changes to the immigration rules regarding EU nationals currently living and residing in the UK, nor conversely for those UK nationals currently living and residing in the EU.

The final Article 50 agreement will need to be agreed by the EU member states, the UK and the European Parliament. Any EU Treaties will continue to apply to the UK until such agreements enter into force or until the two year period of negotiations has ended. Should there be no agreement by this two year mark, it may be that a request for an extension of negotiations is put in place by unanimous agreement of all EU member states.

We would also like to remind you to register for our next live webinar in our ‘Beyond Brexit’ series called “Beyond Brexit – what’s the deal?” on 27th April 2016 at 10am GMT, using the link below:

http://www.pwcwebcast.co.uk/webcast/2017_April_BeyondBrexit/

Our industry experts will be discussing what we can expect from the two year Brexit negotiations and what sort of deal we may be heading toward. Please do also visit our dedicated Brexit site www.pwc.co.uk/brexit where you can access our podcasts, webcasts, blogs and various other materials to help guide and support you during this period.

Please reach out to us should you wish to have more information on this alert.

 

Your PwC contact:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

 

Mass dismissals – beware of the pitfalls

EmploymentIN A NUTSHELL
Under Swiss law, mass dismissals require compliance with special procedures, which are stated in the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO). It is important to adhere to the rules, as non-compliance may result in lawsuits (for unfair dismissal) or the continuance of the employment relationships. However, when do we speak of mass dismissals and what are the required procedures?

DEFINITION OF MASS DISMISSAL
Notices of termination given by the employer within a period of 30 days for reasons unrelated to the individual employee and affecting the following numbers of employees are considered as ‘mass dismissals’ (art. 335d CO):

  • 10 employees in a business usually employing more than 20 and less than 100 employees;
  • 10 percent of the workforce in a business usually employing more than 100 and less than 300 employees;
  • 30 employees in a business employing more than 300 employees.
    While terminations for altered conditions and early terminations of a temporary contract are considered to be relevant for purposes of the rules on mass dismissal, terminations based on termination agreements or due to the employer’s bankruptcy are not included within the coverage of the rules.

Continue to read in our current newsletter.

If you have questions, please contact your usual PwC contact person or one of PwC Switzerland´s legal experts named below.

Martin Zeier
Legal Services
martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com
Myriam Büchi
Legal Services
myriam.buechi-baentli@ch.pwc.com
Christine Bassanello
Legal Services
christine.bassanello@ch.pwc.com

PwC Legal: Immigration Alert Switzerland (13 October 2016)

Update on Swiss immigration

On 12 October 2016, the Swiss government announced an increase in the work permit quotas for Non-EU nationals for the coming year. This alert gives you an update on this topic.

Download the full Alert here.

 

 

Please reach out to us should you wish to have more information on this alert.

Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

Martin Zeier
PwC Basel
+41 58 792 52 74
martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com

PwC Legal: Immigration Alert Switzerland (28 September 2016)

Update on Swiss immigration

Last week, several cantons announced a lack of B-permit quotas for Non-EU nationals. However, L-permit quotas are still available. This alert gives you an update on Swiss immigration.

Download the full Alert here.

 

 

Please reach out to us should you wish to have more information on this topic.

Your PwC contacts:

Mirela Stoia
PwC Geneva
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

Martin Zeier
PwC Basel
+41 58 792 52 74
martin.zeier@ch.pwc.com