Immigration alert: Romanian and Bulgarian nationals: B-type work and residence permit quotas maintained for another year

Background
The Swiss Government decided on 10 May 2017 to use the safeguard clause of the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP). This clause enables Switzerland to reintroduce temporary restrictions on the access of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to the Swiss labour market if the number of new arrivals exceeds a certain threshold. This threshold was exceeded and thus, quotas for long-term work and residence permits (B-type permits) were reintroduced starting from 1 June 2017.

Please note that the above quotas are only relevant for permits related to Swiss employment contracts lasting longer than 364 days or with an indefinite duration and to independent workers. Moreover, short-term work and residence permits (L-type permits) are not affected by this restriction at the moment.

B-type work and residence permit quotas maintained until 31 May 2019
On 18 April 2018, the Swiss Government decided to maintain the B-type permit quotas for another year until 31 May 2019. The Swiss-wide total number of available B-type permits is set at 996 permits, released on a quarterly basis.

Please note that only initial applications are limited by the quota, while extension applications are not subject to these restrictions.

Possible re-introduction of L-type work and residence permit quotas until 31 May 2019
The Swiss Government also decided to re-introduce quotas to limit the issuance of L-type permits if the number of new arrivals exceeds a certain threshold by 31 May 2018. Should this be the case, L-type permits will be limited to 6767 until 31 May 2019. The implementation modalities will likely be set by the Swiss Government by the end of May 2018.

What is next?
Under the current legal provisions, this quota extension should be the last one. Indeed, the safeguard clause in the AFMP is only valid until 31 May 2019. Passed this date, the Swiss Government is not entitled to reintroduce quotas for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals, as per current legislation.

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

Contact Us

Mirela Stoia
Director Immigration Services
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com

Swiss Equal Pay Regulatory update: the conversation continues regarding pay equality

Swiss Equal Pay

On the 28th February, the Conseil des Etats (Swiss Parliament) rejected by a vote of 25 to 19 the proposed equal pay legislation. This is where organisations with over 50 employees would be required to carry out a regular (every 4 years) pay analysis, to ensure there is no discrimination between the pay of men and women. This analysis would then have to be reviewed by an approved independent 3rd party (eg an audit firm or an equal pay specialist recognised by the Federal Office for Gender Equality), and the results communicated to their employees (and shareholders where applicable).

Following this decision, the Parliament have requested the commission to consider alternatives and re-submit a new proposition for consideration, as the pay gap within Switzerland remains over 12% (FOS 2018) and the belief is that voluntary measures alone will not ensure organisations pay their male and female employees equally. Many governments in Europe are legislating that organisations measure and communicate their pay gap to all eg UK, Germany and Iceland.

The benefits of Equal Pay

Much research has been carried out on the benefits of a Diverse & Inclusive organisation (over 75% of CEOs who invested in D&I saw enhanced business performance and greater capacity for innovation within their organisations), paying employees equally for equal work is a fundamental part of an organisations Diversity & Inclusion strategy, as it has been shown to drive higher employee engagement, improves the organisations employee value proposition for potential talent, reduced potential reputation risk and also enhances retention.

Next steps

We recommend the following actions:

  • Be transparent regarding your total reward approach, educating employees on your compensation policy and strategy
  • Review your HR practices and policies for potential unconscious bias which could lead to pay discrimination between men and women
  • Carry out an analysis of your employee reward data to ensure there is no pay discrimination between men and women
  • Consider seeking an independent certification for your organisation which demonstrates your commitment to equal pay (eg certification by the independent non-profit the Equal-Salary Foundation.

We are keeping a close watch on any developments in this area, and will let you know as soon as we learn anything new.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this important topic in more detail.

PwC Switzerland
Sue Johnson
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98
sue.johnson@ch.pwc.com

PwC Switzerland
Johannes (Joop) Smits
Tel. +41 58 792 91 64
johannes.smits@ch.pwc.com

Family business – Passing the torch and detecting intellectual property opportunities

Family Business - Receiving the torch and detecting IP opportunities
Capture your family business’ intellectual property to generate new opportunities.

As a broader term, intellectual property (‘IP’) comprises trademarks (brand protection), patents (invention protection) copyright (original work protection, e.g. literary and artistic work), designs (product appearance protection), confidential information and know-how. Regardless of their activities, family businesses always have one or more of the above IP rights. In particular, a family business’ brand is its most valuable asset. A brand is built up over the long term and conveys the core values of the family, becoming an integral part of the business, its success and its reputation. There are many examples of well-known family businesses with strong links between the families’ goodwill and their business’ brand. The families’ core purposes, identities, statements and principle business goals become the building blocks of theirbrand values.

Family business and brand heritage

In the context of the transfer of a family business to the next generation, intellectual property is a central matter. PwC’s IP Department has the expertise to assist the next generation in addressing challenges and strategic questions such as:

  • understanding the value of your family business’ IP and preserving the legacy
  • defining your family business brand identity and ensuring consumers’ perception of the family’s brand
  • defining IP ownership in the family by verifying ownership documentation
  • understanding each legal category of your business’ IP and analysing what can be done to maximise value with regards to each category
  • establishing ‘best practices’ on how to use the IP to create value for the family business
  • recognising new business opportunities and different applications of the IP by remaining open to and thriving on innovation
  • looking at the changing environment as a challenge rather than a threat

Interested?

Are you in the phase of passing the torch? Are you interested in discovering what opportunities IP can offer?

Take the first step on your transmission 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

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Flexibility and freedom of choice with Flexible Legal Resources

Sound support for legal and compliance issues is essential to your business. But for many companies, traditional models based solely on working with an internal team of specialists or a traditional law firm are not practical. Because these are often too cumbersome or too expensive. Or you can never be sure whether a lawyer is acting in your interest or merely in the interest of his company.

Flexibility and freedom of choice with PwC’s Flexible Legal Resources

PwC’s Flexible Legal Resources bridge this gap, by providing an extensive but rigorously selected pool of contingent legal and compliance experts. Do you have to cover a temporary shortfall in resources? Do you need support with longer-term assignments? Or do you require specific outside expertise (for instance to comply with new regulations)? Select exactly the right people for you, with the skills and attitude to get your job done.

The solution is entirely flexible: you determine whether your specialists work from home or on your premises, individually or in teams, on a fixed-contract or indefinite basis. And most importantly of all, your chosen experts work to your instructions and answer directly to you, not to the partners in an external firm.

The benefits for our clients

  • Scale on demand: Our pool of specialists, ranging from paralegals and compliance experts to lawyers with or without bar qualifications, gives you the flexibility to bridge your changing legal needs. Whether it’s covering an abnormal, temporary spike in workload, or providing specialists to complement the skills of your in-house team.
  • Value, speed and efficiency: Our rigorous selection process means that you can be sure of obtaining highly qualified experts with in-house experience and the business know-how to make a significant contribution to value. Clients can rely on us for high-quality, easily accessible and cost-effective legal and regulatory expertise.
  • Full control: The breadth and depth of our bench is unrivalled. It comprises people with a wide range of different cultural backgrounds, language skills, industry experience and legal qualifications – in all areas of expertise. Unlike with a traditional law firm, you remain firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting – and instructing – the specialists best suited to your needs and company culture.

Contact our experts for more information on how FLR can benefit your company’s success.

The benefits for our specialists

  • Flexibility on your terms (“Self-Determination” and “Work-Life-Balance”): With Flexible Legal Resources, you’ll be able to maintain the autonomy to work flexibly. We show you the projects we have available so that you can choose the work best suited to you.
  • Outstanding opportunity: Flexible Legal Resources gives you the opportunity to work on fascinating, high-profile projects, without compromising on financial rewards.
  • Expand your network: You’ll be part of an extensive network of other contractors, and will have the chance to attend a range of events where you can establish new relationships and expand your network.

Sign up today through our onboarding platform.

Our experts

Marc Morant
Head PwC’s Flexible Legal Resources
+41 58 792 18 53
marc.o.morant@ch.pwc.com

Sebastian Heinrich
Head Client Management
+41 58 792 14 31
sebastian.heinrich@ch.pwc.com

Richard Ossen
Head Lawyer Management
+41 58 792 14 92
richard.ossen@ch.pwc.com

Steve Hafner
Lawyer Management
+41 58 792 18 38
steve.hafner@ch.pwc.com

Want to find out more about our core services at PwC Legal Switzerland? Follow PwC Legal on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Update on the implementation of art. 121a Swiss Constitution (article regarding the ‘Mass Immigration Initiative’)

Background
On 9 February 2014, voters in Switzerland approved a new constitutional provision (art. 121a Federal Constitution; Cst) by a narrow majority of just over 50 percent. The initiative demanded that Switzerland control immigration autonomously and set quotas and upper limits for foreigners. The vote was the result of years of political pressure, particularly in regions experiencing high migration inflows. Overall, Switzerland takes in up to 100,000 immigrants annually, mostly from European Union (EU) countries.

The Swiss Parliament thus found itself in the difficult position of having to implement an initiative intended to limit the free movement of persons (including those from EU Member States) without infringing the Bilateral Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU. After nearly three years of speculation and uncertainty, the Swiss Parliament approved on Friday, 16 December 2016 the modifications to the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals (Foreign Nationals Act; FNA), thereby implementing art. 121a Cst.

Implementation of the legal changes in the ordinances
On 8 December 2017, the Federal Council decided how the amended FNA would be implemented in the related ordinances and, in particular, in the Ordinance on the Recruitment and Hiring of Services. The new articles of the FNA and the Ordinance on the Recruitment and Hiring of Services create the obligation for employers to communicate job vacancies in certain categories of profession to the designated public authority. These professional categories are those in which the Switzerland-wide unemployment rate reaches a certain threshold.

  • As of 1 July 2018, the threshold will be set at an unemployment rate of 8%.
  • As of 1 January 2020, the threshold will be set at an unemployment rate of 5%.

In professional categories where the unemployment rate is equal to or higher than the threshold, employers will have a legal obligation to notify the designated public authority of any job vacancies. For the first five days following each notification of a job vacancy, these job offers will be available solely to the workforce already registered as unemployed. Only after five days have passed will employers be allowed to publish the vacancy in the media of their choice. Thus, registered unemployed workers will benefit from a head start for their applications.

Which employers are affected?
In its explanatory report of November 2017, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) provided a list of professional categories in which the Switzerland-wide unemployment rate is equal to or higher than 5%, based on 2016 statistics (and thus subject to change). Professionals in the construction industry are well represented on this list; salespersons, specialists in marketing, micro-technology and electronic engineers as well as mechanical engineers also appear on it. The list of professions affected by the implementation of the threshold will be published with up-to-date statistical data before the entry into force of the duty of notification described above.

Are there any exceptions to this duty of notification?
It is not mandatory to communicate a job vacancy to the authority in the following cases:

  • The job opening is filled by a worker who has already been employed by the same firm for at least six months (also applicable to interns but not to labour leasing companies).
  • Apprentices who are offered a job position after completing their apprenticeship.
  • Short-term employment lasting up to 14 days (e.g. in the event of an urgent resource need while an employee is temporarily unable to work due to an accident or other similar reason).
  • The job position is filled by a close family member of the firm’s owner (in particular, cases of inheritance).

What’s next?
The changes in the FNA and its ordinances should ensure a better use of the local workforce, as intended by the initiative. Specifically, this is implemented by giving a head start to unemployed workers who are already registered at the designated public authority.

The above-outlined changes imply that companies will have to monitor the list of professions issued by the SECO on a regular basis to check whether, when and for which professions the threshold of 5% is met (or exceeded), thus requiring them to notify the designated public authority of their job vacancies. The internal or external recruitment teams of companies will need to implement processes that allow them to publish vacancies efficiently in order to avoid disruption of the day-to-day business activities. PwC is working on such processes to address its own recruiting needs and we are happy to share our experience and best practices with our clients.

PwC will continue to closely monitor the immigration legal landscape in Switzerland, at the federal and cantonal levels. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your usual PwC contact for further details.

Contact Us

Mirela Stoia
Director Immigration Services
+41 58 792 91 16
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com
visa@ch.pwc.com

SECO directive on intra-group staff leasing: how does it affect companies from a global mobility perspective?

Read a related article

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has published a new directive concerning intra-group staff leasing. The new directive states that staff leasing within a group of companies also falls under the federal law on recruitment and staff lending (AVG, LSE, LC) and is no longer automatically exempt from these regulations. The law restricts staff lending, forbids it in some cases, declares others permission free, and subjects it to authorisation or a staff lending licence in certain situations.

These restrictions affect companies operating globally in a variety of ways, depending on how they are set up with regard to their international workforce. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the new directive. Some of the initial reactions to the new directive suggest that companies are extremely concerned that they will no longer be able to bring in the staff they need for their business. However, a closer look at the directive paints another picture. There are still categories of permissible secondments. For most companies these will cover the majority of cases. The attached set of slides will shed some light on the global mobility side of the SECO directive and the possible action points.

Read More

Contact

Ingo Heymanns
Senior Manager
Tel. +41 58 792 45 43
E-mail: ingo.heymanns@ch.pwc.com

Intragroup staff leasing

Read a related article

In June of this year, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) issued a new directive on the permissibility of intragroup staff leasing. It clarified that intragroup staff leasing also generally requires the relevant licences – contrary to a previous directive dating back to 2003. To fully understand its impact, it is necessary to be familiar with the legal concept of staff leasing. Below, we will therefore provide you with more information on staff leasing in general before focusing on intragroup staff leasing, and on crossborder staff leasing in particular. To conclude, we will give our views on the consequences of the new SECO directive.

Read More

Contacts

Legal/Immigration
Christine Bassanello
christine.bassanello@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 51 21

Immigration
Mirela Stoia
mirela.stoia@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 91 16

Global Mobility
Ingo Heymanns
ingo.heymanns@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 45 43

PwC’s Flexible Legal Resources

We provide our clients with flexible legal and compliance specialists on an interim Basis.

Solid legal and regulatory support is vital to your business. But for many organisations, the conventional models – working exclusively with a team of in-house specialists or a traditional law firm – no longer serve the purpose. They are too unwieldy or expensive. Or you can never be sure whether a lawyer is working in your interest or in the interest of his firm.

Bridge the gap

PwC’s Flexible Legal Resources (FLR) bridge this gap by providing an extensive but rigorously selected pool of contingent legal and compliance experts. Whether you have to cover a temporary shortfall in resources, need support with longer-term assignments, or require specific outside expertise (for instance to comply with new regulations), you select exactly the right people for you, with the skills and attitude to get your job done.

The solution is entirely flexible: you determine whether your specialists work from home or on your premises, individually or in teams, on a fixed-contract or indefinite basis. And most importantly of all, your chosen experts work to your instructions and answer directly to you, not to the partners in an external firm.

Interested?

Call us if your organisation needs this kind of flexible, cost-efficient support – or if you’re a legal or compliance specialist looking for interesting opportunities with great terms and financial rewards. We look forward to hearing from you!

The benefits for our clients:

  • Scale on demand: Our pool of specialists, ranging from paralegals and compliance experts to lawyers with or without bar qualifications, gives you the flexibility to bridge your changing legal needs – whether it’s covering an abnormal, temporary spike in workload, or providing specialists to complement the skills of your in-house team.
  • Value, speed and efficiency: Our rigorous selection process means that you can be sure of obtaining highly qualified experts with in-house experience and the business know-how to make a significant contribution to value. Clients can rely on us for high-quality, easily accessible and cost-effective legal and regulatory expertise.
  • Full control: The breadth and depth of our bench is unrivalled. It comprises people with a wide range of different cultural backgrounds, language skills, industry experience and legal qualifications – in all areas of expertise. Unlike with a traditional law firm, you remain firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting – and instructing – the specialists best suited to your needs and company culture.

The benefits for the specialists working for us:

  • Flexibility on your terms (“Self-Determination” and “Work-Life-Balance”): With Flexible Legal Resources, you’ll be able to maintain the autonomy to work flexibly. We show you the projects we have available so that you can choose the work best suited to you.
  • Outstanding opportunity: Flexible Legal Resources gives you the opportunity to work on fascinating, high-profile projects, without compromising on financial rewards.
  • Expand your network: You’ll be part of an extensive network of other contractors, and will have the chance to attend a range of events where you can establish new relationships and expand your network.

Contact:

Guenther Dobrauz
Partner|Leader PwC Legal Services Switzerland
Tel. +41 58 792 1497
guenther.dobrauz@ch.pwc.com

PwC is transforming legal services with PartnerVine

Want to cut the cost and effort involved in drafting reliable legal documents?

PwC has become the first major legal service provider to offer a library of automated contracts and legal documents directly to the public on PartnerVine. It’s quick, easy, dependable and affordable.

What are we offering?

The library uses cutting-edge technology to help you generate your own, customised commercial agreements and corporate documents such as board minutes and resolutions.

It couldn’t be simpler: an intuitive questionnaire finds out exactly what you need and guides you through the drafting process. You can then export the finished Word document for further discussion and editing within your team as required.

What are the benefits for you?

  • Confidence and control: you have a standard document drafted by legal experts combined with the flexibility to fine-tune it to your needs.
  • Lower cost: standardising more routine legal services frees up resources for specialist support when you really need it.
  • Quick and easy: the system eliminates a time-consuming step from the process of getting down to business.
  • Sound legal support: benefit from the legal knowledge and contracting experience of PwC’s specialists.
  • Leading technology: the platform is powered by technology from Exari, the leading provider of enterprise contract lifecycle management solutions.

How do you access the service?

Check out the PartnerVine platform for our online library of automated legal documents and Swiss-law templates – all for a fixed price. Work smarter and reduce costs.

Feedback welcome!

We at PwC are dedicated to innovation and the use of technology to improve our services, and endeavour to bring our clients quality end-to-end solutions. So if you have any comments on our automated contracts, please submit them here. We look forward to receiving your feedback!

Need more in-depth advice?

We’re confident that this service will reduce the time and expense involved in producing standard documentation customised to your requirements. But in cases where the standard templates don’t fit your needs or you require specialist tax and legal advice in connection with a transaction, feel free to contact our experts.

Contact

Joanna Murphy
Director, PwC Legal Switzerland
E-Mail: joanna.murphy@ch.pwc.com
Tel. +41 58 792 6870

IOM’s Dialogue on Migration

Background

The private sector needs to engage with NGOs, governments and policy makers in respect of migration policies, which includes irregular migration and integration of migrants. This allows private sector representatives to discuss the impact of the global refugee crisis on business and mobility programmes.

PwC’s involvement in this area helps drive the PwC purpose, which is to build trust in society and solve important problems. PwC’s Immigration and Mobility practices are thought leaders in this space. In the last 12 months Julia Onslow-Cole and Nadia Idries from our UK office worked with the UNHCR and OECD to help prepare for, and facilitate a series of workshops across Europe including Brussels, Copenhagen and Munich on the theme of “Employing refugees” – a dialogue with employers and business organisations. The dialogues brought together a number of key employers and employers’ organizations to share their experiences of challenges and learnings, and to explore opportunities in employing refugees. The dialogues were designed to be a platform for exchange for discussing common challenges and for identifying innovative strategies and best practices to make refugee employment a benefit for all.

Building on this engagement, PwC Switzerland has been contributing to thought leadership initiatives. Most recently, on 19 July 2017, Mirela Stoia, who leads the immigration practice of PwC Switzerland, participated in a panel hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the following topic “Understanding migrant vulnerabilities: a solution-based approach towards a global compact that reduces vulnerability and empower migrants” at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

PwC contributed by bringing in a private sector perspective to help deepen the audience’s understanding of the various facets of migrants’ vulnerabilities and the complexity of the challenges migrants are facing.

The focus of the roundtable was how the protection of vulnerable migrants might be incorporated into the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). Panel members discussed the specific challenges posed by vulnerable populations and ways to facilitate international coordination to address migration governance. Further topics included discussion of 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 roundtables 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 the duplication of efforts and resources.

PwC’s statement

PwC feels that 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 thus, 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.

PwC’s full statement as presented at the roundtables can be accessed via the following IOM link: https://www.iom.int/international-dialogue-migration-2017-understanding-migrant-vulnerabilities-solution-based-approach

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