Post-Covid telework for cross-border workers: the HR headache

teletravail-frontaliers-suisse
 
 
There will be a before and after Covid concerning telework for cross-border workers. The current derogatory rules have been extended until 30 June. After this date, without an agreement, employers will be forced to prohibit teleworking for Geneva cross-border workers. Update on the subject. 
 

Reminder of the consequences in the event of non-agreement

At the tax level

A distinction must be made between the cantons which are signatories to the international agreement with France and those that are not part of it, such as Geneva.

For non-signatory cantons such as Geneva or Fribourg, the days teleworked from France will be taxable in France from the first day. The employer will have several obligations, including that of appointing a tax representative in France to collect the tax. This provision is currently incompatible with Swiss law according to Article 271 of the Criminal Code.

For the signatory cantons such as Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel or Jura, if teleworking exceeds 1 day per week (i.e. more than 20%), the employee risks losing their status as a cross-border worker (or quasi-resident). 
 

At the social level

Once the derogatory measures have been removed, if the cross-border worker teleworks 25% or more from their home in France, the employer will have to join the French Social Security and pay contributions on all of their remuneration. Consequently, this will result in a significantly higher cost of social security contributions for both the employee and the employer. 
 

The end of telework for cross-border workers? 

The Swiss Employers' Union and other associations in French-speaking Switzerland recommend that companies located in cantons that do not have international agreements with France (i.e. Geneva) remain cautious and prohibit teleworking. For those working in cantons with an agreement, telework should not exceed 20% so as not to compromise the status of cross-border worker.
 

Think about your telework policy now

 
The financial consequences and administrative constraints are forcing companies to urgently reflect on their telework policy. For the employer, several questions arise: accept unlimited telework by anticipating the additional costs? Limit it to 25% or 20%? Prohibit it for all cross-border employees? And in the latter case, anticipate differentiated management between Swiss residents and cross-border workers for the HR department and propose innovative solutions concerning the organisation of work (flexible hours, 4-day week, etc.)?

As cross-border workers are directly impacted, it is the company's responsibility to inform them of the consequences.
 

Towards a tolerance threshold?

In March, the France-Geneva partners met to agree on a tolerance threshold allowing cross-border staff to telework at least 1 day a week, without consequences for their taxation. This threshold should be aligned with that of social insurance, i.e. 25%.

According to the State Council, the FER (French-speaking Swiss employers' organisation), the CCIG (Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services) and the French partners, this decision seems to be the most rational: it makes it possible to satisfy the demand of 75% of cross-border workers, contributes to the objectives of sustainable development by reducing commuting activity, and gives companies the opportunity to optimise their workspaces. Finally, the partners have the guarantee of preserving regional financial balances, with regard to the level of Swiss tax revenue and the financial compensation paid to local authorities in neighbouring France.

On the French side, some local elected officials are pleading to raise this threshold to 40% by imposing its application only in the border area. This position is not currently shared by the Geneva authorities.

On the Confederation side, contacts have been made at the highest level and work has begun, according to State Councillor Nathalie Fontanet. On the French side, the file is in Paris but, due to the upcoming presidential elections, political life is generally slowed down. Are we heading towards a new extension of the derogatory measures? This possibility has not been ruled out.


We continue to actively monitor the situation and will keep you informed of any future developments.


 
Sources: 
 
Cross-border teleworking guide (fer-ge.ch)

Breakfast for SMEs and start-ups on 25/02/2022 (ge.ch)

Press release from France-Geneva partners – March 22 (ge.ch) 

 
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