Switzerland Overhaul of Labor Law 2019

Switzerland is a country commonly praised for creating an environment for employees that encourages positive work life balance, and many Swiss cities are consistently ranked as places with the best quality of life around the world. These positive aspects of the country can be directly linked to the way that employees are treated and the labor laws protecting employees at work. 2019 has been a busy year for Swiss lawmakers with many proposed developments to Swiss labor laws.

First of all, data protection has been a major focus for many countries and employers around the world. With more work taking place digitally, digital data needs to be actively protected in order for an organization to be considered socially responsible. The proposed revision of the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection would require more transparency in data processing practices as well as improvements and increases to the amount of supervision and sanctions related to data protection practices.

Additionally, as of 2014, a system was created in order for unemployed Swiss workers to have access to job vacancies before those jobs were listed and filled by foreign workers. This system was officially put into effect in July of 2018 and created the necessity for organizations to provide job openings exclusively to public job agencies for 5 days before making these listings available to worldwide applicants. This was specifically generated for industries with an unemployment rate of 8% or higher, but now the applicable rate will be lowered to 5% as of January 2020.

Furthermore, the gender pay gap is still an issue in Switzerland, as it is in many other developed countries around the world. In order to counteract these practices, all organizations with over 100 employees are required to produce an internal analysis of worker pay every 4 years. By regulating these analyses, it is anticipated that the gender pay gap will continue to drop in Switzerland, as the results of the analysis must be publicly published and distributed to the employees involved in the analysis (or in the annual report if the company is publicly traded).

Issues surrounding corporate whistleblowing have been a topic of confusion and fear for many years. Policy makers continually work to limit the amount of negative consequences towards the whistleblower, but these policies always require changes and updates to reflect the current nationwide practices. New adaptations to Swiss labor laws have created permission for employees to report irregularities in the workplace and that the employer has a certain amount of time to act on these concerns. This has been established as another way to protect employees further in alignment with labor laws surrounding dismissal without cause. This policy is still in its very initial stages in Switzerland so the practical applications of these premises may be in the near future of the country.

Finally, the Swiss Federal Act on Employment in Trade and Industry has had several motions proposed and pending based on necessary updates. The goal of these proposals has been to adapt the current laws surrounding working hours, resting periods, as well as evening or Sunday work by creating a request for exemptions for certain categories of employment or business. Based on the legislation and overall political climate of the country, it is uncertain if these proposals will ever make it past the initial presentation phase.

Overall, there have been many adaptations and proposed changes to employment law in Switzerland. As a country that most people look towards to set the standards of the ideal working nation, it is important that they carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the legislative changes that have been proposed. Many other nations will be waiting to see what changes Switzerland decides to move forward and implement.

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