COVID-19 crisis: the flexible and pragmatic approach continues to apply for social security coordination

Natalia Graf Senior Manager, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland 10 Dec 2020

Unfortunately, the situation is not going back to normal as soon as we all hoped. As a consequence, Switzerland and other countries are still willing to apply a flexible and pragmatic approach with regards to the applicable social security legislation. 

The following is based on the Swiss Federal social security communication to be found here (status: 9 December 2020).

Agreement on Free Movement of Persons or the EFTA Convention

The applicable social security law shall not switch based on the COVID-19 restrictions. Hence, a person who has the normal working place in Switzerland will be deemed to exercise its employed activity in Switzerland even if not physically present in Switzerland. This is valid for, e.g. a cross-border commuter working in the home office in its country of residence during the pandemic or someone working outside of Switzerland who would normally be working in Switzerland.

The Swiss authorities aim to obtain a uniform approach at least with the EU- and EFTA-states, however due to the different sanitary situations in the countries and to the difference in the approaches on how to tackle the crisis.

Switzerland has concluded agreements with Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein for a flexible treatment until 30 June 2021. Generally, with other EU/EFTA states the special treatment shall also apply until 30 June 2021 or until otherwise communicated.

Bilateral social security agreements

Also, in the context of situations between Switzerland and a social security treaty country, a person not being able to work physically in Switzerland but normally subject to Swiss social security shall not suffer from changes due to the pandemic.

Non-treaty countries

Persons domiciled in a country with which Switzerland has no social security treaty in place shall also remain subject to Swiss social security if they are forced to work (in their home office) outside of Switzerland instead of Switzerland, their usual place of work.

  • Once the situation will go back to normal, employers must make sure to consider the consequences of working patterns for their employees’ social security situation.
  • We strongly advise that employers clearly document all moves of their workforce and the rationale for each move. Planning and documenting will greatly facilitate answering requests or making applications for special treatment later, should they become necessary.

Contact us

Natalia Graf

Natalia Graf

Senior Manager, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 43 24

Marcel Meier

Marcel Meier

Partner, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 68 61

June Bood

June Bood

Director, People and Organisation, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 17 49