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Switzerland

01. Hiring Practices

Requirement for Foreign Employees to Work

In order to employ staff in Switzerland, it is not necessary to set up your own company in Switzerland. Employees can be employed directly by a foreign company. So far, Switzerland has a dual system for the admission of foreign workers.

Nationals from the EC (European Community) or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) countries benefit from the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons and, in general, do not need a work permit if residence is taken in Switzerland, subject to certain restrictions and exceptions for nationals from the new EC countries.

In regard to non-EC and non-EFTA nationals, only a limited number of management-level employees, specialists and other qualified employees are admitted from all other countries (subject to a quota as determined by the Federal Council). If non-EC or non-EFTA nationals (without residence in Switzerland) work in Switzerland temporarily for more than eight days for a non-Swiss company, such employees must be reported to the authorities in advance, even if no work or residence permit is required.

Does a Foreign Employer need to Establish or Work through a Local Entity to Hire an Employee?

In order to employ staff in Switzerland, it is not necessary to set up your own company in Switzerland. Employees can be employed directly by a foreign company.

Limitations on Background Checks

Employers may contact references given in an applicant’s CV or job application. Medical checks may be requested only to the extent that this is justified by the work involved (e.g. dealing with heavy workloads or dangerous jobs where physical fitness is a requirement). Drug screening is justified only to the extent that it is required due to the work involved (e.g. for truck drivers or dangerous jobs where physical fitness is required). Credit checks are generally not permissible unless the position in question justifies such a check (e.g., bankers, accountants or lawyers). Employers cannot screen a candidate’s social media accounts. However, professional sites such as LinkedIn and Xing may be screened.

Restrictions on Application/Interview Questions

As a general rule, the employer may handle data concerning the employee only to the extent that such data concerns the employee’s suitability for this job or are necessary for the performance of the employment contract. This also applies to pre-employment screening and hiring practices. Consequently, to give some examples, it is permitted to ask the candidate for an excerpt from the criminal register to the extent that the position in question justifies asking (e.g., for positions requiring higher trustworthiness).

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