More than a third of Swiss are working from home due to COVID-19

What are the legal and tax consequences for SMEs, their directors and personnel ? Find out in our Q&A on homeoffice and return to workspace

  1. Does the Geneva minimum salary apply to employees with a home-office in Geneva ?

As of November 1, 2020, the minimum hourly salary of around CHF 23 applies to any employee working in Geneva, regardless the place of office of the employer, and irrespective of the employee’s domicile. However, the employee should be usually performing his work in the canton of Geneva, which does not encompass irregular cases such as occasional work from home. It is nevertheless certain that full-time home-office shall qualify as regular place of work.

  1. What costs must be borne by the employer in case of home-office ?

In essence, all the costs necessary for the performance of work must be covered by the employer, including any office material used from home. This, however, does not require the employer to contribute to the employee’s rent as it would have been due regardless any home-office. The same applies to home internet, electricity, etc.

  1. Can I force my employee to work from home ?

Employment agreements generally specify the place of work of the employee. In such a case, unless the law or administrative decision requires so, the employee is entitled to perform his work from the company’s office building.

  1. Can I request my employees to return to office ?

If the pandemic situation allows, and the administrative decisions do not impose mandatory home-office, then the employees are required to be present in the company’s office during working hours, as it is usually specified in the employment agreement.

  1. Should I cover the costs for medical masks of my employees ?

If the employer makes it compulsory to wear a mask in the office, he must provide masks and pay for them. Employers are required to pay the costs incurred by their employees in carrying out their work, and the masks made available must be certified and guarantee a certain level of safety.

  1. May I dismiss an employee for refusing to wear a mask ?

Before dismissing an employee, the employer must remind the person concerned that he or she must wear a mask and ask the employee to do so. If the employee persists in refusing to wear a mask, immediate termination may occur.

  1. May I dismiss an employee if he is constantly unavailable while working from home ?

Immediate dismissal requires an irreparable breach of trust. If, despite multiple reminders, the employee remains often unavailable and does not answer the employer’s calls, immediate termination may occur.

  1. If I work full-time from home, can I still deduct costs of commuting to work ?

Costs of commuting to work are generally deductible on a lump-sum basis. The majority of legal literature considers that the employee may claim higher effective costs, but that the administration is not entitled to refuse a lump-sum deduction in their absence.

  1. Can I deduct a portion of my rent if I work from home ?

Indeed, a room at your domicile that is exclusively equipped for working from home may be considered as a necessary cost of the employee. As such, the portion of rent is deductible insofar as work from home is mandatory, as opposed to a free choice of the employee. The employee should exclusively use this room for work, and not for personal purposes.

  1. Can I deduct costs of office equipment that I assume due to home-office ?

Office equipment should be provided or covered by the employer. As such, these are not the costs of the employee and may not be deducted from his income.

  1. If I work from home in France instead of previously working in Switzerland, where do I pay my taxes ?

In principle, tax on employee’s income is due in his state of residence, or in the state of regular work where the duration generally exceeds 183 days. Exceptionally, countries bordering with Switzerland have signed protocols that allow Switzerland to continue to withhold tax on cross-border employees generally working in Switzerland, but who are currently working from home in other countries due to pandemic restrictions.

  1. If I work from home in France instead of previously working in Switzerland, where do I pay my social security contributions ?

Unlike the situation with taxes, the employee should work not more than 25% of time from abroad to be exempt from Swiss social security. As such, this employee should not work for more than 1,25 days a week from abroad.

  1. Is electronic signature allowed ?

A conventional electronic signature is only allowed for contracts that can be concluded in verbal form, which is the majority of contracts under the Swiss law. Conversely, where the law provides for a signature, only qualified e-signatures are valid.

  1. Should I indicate hours worked from home in the salary certificate ?

There is no obligation to indicate home-office days on the salary certificate (except for a few cases of employees with a company car and deducting the journey from home to work). Reimbursement of lump sum expenses and expense regulations continue to apply despite the increase in home office.