How is Switzerland responding to Covid-19?

Posting date: 09 April 2020
Covid-19 continues to have a stronghold over much of the world, creating uncertainty and change in many markets, not to mention economies and lives. The virus has impacted all of us in one way or another, yet the response to it varies from person to person, country to country. The government has categorised the Swiss situation as “extraordinary”, with a raft of measures put in place to contain the coronavirus as well as protect people, businesses and the nation. So how exactly are the Swiss handling it?

An extraordinary situation with extraordinary measures


Because of the “extraordinary situation” label given to Switzerland’s Covid-19, authorities have been able to take over specific powers from the nation’s cantons and impose measures to restrict conditions in the country. This is the first time these legal provisions have been applied in Switzerland, with new conditions including a ban on all private and public events, and the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural spaces, sporting facilities and schools. Business providing essential services – such as grocery and food stores, pharmacies, post offices and banks – remain open and serving the public.

Recommendations and restrictions


While stopping short of some of the stricter enforcement measures other countries are imposing on its people, Switzerland has issued very clear guidelines to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include a recommendation to all citizens to stay at home unless necessary, particularly those who are sick or aged 65 and older, as well as announcing a nationwide ban on gatherings of more than five people. Some individual cantons have taken this further, forbidding over-65-year-olds from leaving their homers outside of specific circumstances. Borders are closed and the message is clear: stay home and be sensible.

Economic support


Switzerland has been a world leader when it comes to supporting its businesses, announcing a CHF20 billion package of emergency loans to support small businesses on March 25 and disbursing more than CHF15 billion to just over 76,000 companies within the first week, prompting Bern to double the initial package. This will provide relief to companies with liquidity problems, allowing those hit by the crisis to defer payment of social insurance contributions temporarily. The measures also apply to the self-employed. The scheme has been viewed to be so successful in terms of efficiency and speed that Swiss banks and government have been liaising with European counterparts to share information on the scheme’s structure. In many cases, business loans have been granted and money made available within 24 hours of completing the simple online application, a level of efficiency that was been widely applauded by the business community.

Like other nations in Europe and worldwide, Switzerland has responded to the economic implications of Covid-19 by offering support to companies whose employees are facing reduced hours due to a lack of work. Currently one quarter of Switzerland’s workers are on reduced hours (short-time working) in a bid for businesses to save costs without making redundancies. Employees are compensated 80% for the loss of income caused by this, with an unemployment insurance fund helping to cover the shortfall.

More testing, earlier


While the rate of cases in Switzerland is high, the nation is proving to be one of the world’s most successful countries in dealing with the pandemic’s later stages. Authorities started in February by testing people who had travelled from high risk areas or had come into contact with an infected person, but this approach intensified as the virus spread. The population is now being tested at a higher rate than any other country and potential cases are being tested earlier, with a strong focus on high-risk groups. This is a more comprehensive strategy than what is being seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere around the world.

Public sentiment


The vast majority of people in Switzerland are following the government measures, according to a Swiss Broadcasting Corporation survey, with the nation’s sense of civic responsibility ensuring people take the social isolation guidelines seriously. Just under 70% of survey respondents say they are optimistic that Swiss hospitals can cope with the number of patients, with 40% of respondents in favour of relaxing the Government-imposed restrictions. With these restrictions currently extended until April 26, time will tell what other developments will unfold this month and over the course of the year.

Supporting our candidates and clients


While it is too early to say how the coronavirus situation will impact recruitment in Switzerland long-term, we are already feeling some ripples. Contract workers have already been impacted by Switzerland’s closed borders, with some who were preparing to take up contracts in the country now shut out due to not having the required permits. This has led to more recruitment from within the Swiss market, with predictions that permits will be limited post-Covid-19 as a response to increased unemployment. 


Swisslinx has been able to facilitate workers starting on a remote basis under the border closure situation changes, while the Swiss authorities are providing flexibility around the rules applicable to remote workers by allowing them to stay on CH contracts despite working abroad.


Some of Swisslinx’s key clients have offered solutions to ensure workers are paid in full. These include encouraging flexibility for remote work, compensating part of the employer costs in cases of short-time working compensation, and honouring contracts and finding solutions to enable these.

There has been a natural slowdown in recruitment activity in some markets while others are thriving, and the rise of virtual interview tools and techniques has helped to ensure candidates and companies can continue to be active in their search. Meanwhile, as workers around the country adopt to new working-from-home measures, we might see new ways of doing business emerge from this pandemic, bringing new meaning to flexible working.

At Swisslinx, our team is hard at work to ensure our candidates and clients can continue to make contact and work together. For us, it’s business as usual – albeit from home – and we’re always looking to hear from anyone considering their next steps. Contact us here to start a conversation about how we can help.

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