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Global employment briefing: Switzerland, October 2017

  • Switzerland
  • Employment law


New guidelines on intra-group staff leasing and licensing requirements

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has published new guidelines on intra-group staff leasing. Deviating from SECO’s previous guidelines on the Federal Act on Recruitment and the Hiring of Services (Recruitment Act), the SECO clearly states in its new guidelines dated 20 July 2017 that intra-group staff leasing is, in principle, subject to the licencing regime under the Recruitment Act. However, there may be certain exemptions to this principle.

Pursuant to the Recruitment Act, the hiring of services is in general subject to a licence by the competent cantonal or federal authority if the employer (lending company) pursues a commercial purpose by means of staff leasing. The hiring of services from outside Switzerland is, in principle, prohibited.

According to SECO’s previous guidelines, intra-group staff leasing was not subject to the licensing regime, notwithstanding that group companies are legally independent entities. The new SECO guidelines state, however, that staff leasing from one to another group company is, in general, subject to the Recruitment Act.

The new SECO guidelines confirm that intra-group staff leasing may be exempt from the licencing regime in some cases. Each case has to be considered individually in order to assess whether it is subject to licencing under the Recruitment Act. According to the SECO, the following criteria may indicate intra-group staff leasing which is not subject to a license:

  • The employee works primarily at the premises and for the benefit of the employing group company. The hiring of services to another group company is not a purpose of the employment agreement and takes place only in isolated cases.
  • Staff leasing is not the lending company’s main corporate purpose.
  • The employee’s work for the user undertaking is time-limited.
  • The hiring of services takes place only occasionally, e.g. in order to bridge low workload or to serve the short term need for additional human resources.
  • Staff leasing is focused on developing the employee’s knowledge and experience, staff training or the internal transfer of know how within the group.

Cross-border intra-group hiring of services from abroad to Switzerland is also permitted if it is one of the exceptional cases described above which means that the Recruitment Act does not apply.