Cross-border commuters temporarily instructed to work from home

Brigitte Zulauf Leader Treuhand/Corporate Support Services Switzerland, PwC Switzerland 23 Mar 2020

By the time the Federal Council declared an “extraordinary situation” on 16 March 2020, many companies had likely already instructed their employees to work from home – wherever possible. In this blog, we look at the implications of this situation on social security liability.

With the declaration of an “extraordinary situation”, the Federal Council has ramped up its measures to protect the population. This includes instructing people to avoid any unnecessary social contact and to stay at home as much as possible.

Employers have a particular responsibility here, as they can ensure that fewer employees need to leave their homes. Many people are therefore working from home – provided that their tasks and company’s infrastructure allow this.

For employees who are resident outside of Switzerland, there’s also the question of social security liability. Normally, cross-border employees are only allowed to perform up to 25% of their work from their country of residence on a regular basis before all their employment activities become liable to social security contributions there. This is governed by an agreement between Switzerland and the EU (Art. 13 Regulation (EC) No 883/2004). This regulation applies to Switzerland, the EU and its members as well as the EFTA. Special consideration needs to be given to civil servants and other special cases, for example when someone has multiple employers. This is where employers need to closely consult additional provisions.

Such provisions don’t apply to cross-border commuters who worked in Switzerland before the instruction to work from home was issued, according to the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO), as it does not consider this temporary arrangement as employment in several countries. In other words, cross-border commuters who are requested to work from home will remain subject to social security in Switzerland. They don’t need a secondment certificate (A1). There are also no changes in terms of social security liability for cross-border commuters who regularly worked in several countries and were therefore subject to fluctuations prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The German Liaison Office for Health Insurance Abroad (DVKA) has confirmed this procedure. Its decision is based on home office in the country of residence being a temporary measure and respects the employer’s right to issue instructions to its employees. But there are other specific areas where employers and the authorities need to analyse the impact more closely.

In a nutshell

Cross-border commuters instructed to work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak will remain subject to social insurance cover in Switzerland.


Contact us

Brigitte Zulauf

Brigitte Zulauf

Leader Treuhand/Corporate Support Services Switzerland, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 47 50