BREXIT: UK and Switzerland Reach Agreement on No-Deal Labour Market Access

April 18, 2019

At its meeting on 17 April 2019, the Swiss Federal Council approved a temporary agreement with the United Kingdom on mutual labour market access in a no-deal scenario.

The UK and Swiss governments have already approved another agreement protecting the rights of Swiss nationals already residing in the UK by Brexit day (and the reciprocal rights of UK nationals already residing in Switzerland before Brexit day), after a Brexit with or without a ratified withdrawal agreement. This agreement includes the right to stay with gainful employment.

Access to Swiss Labour Market for Newly-Arrived UK Nationals

For a limited transition period after a no-deal Brexit (from 1 June 2019 at the earliest until 31 December 2020 at the latest) this agreement would introduce simplified requirements for working in either country.

For the mentioned period, Swiss authorities would dispense with checks on professional qualifications and waive the precedence given to workers already resident in Switzerland and the consideration given to the interests of the economy as a whole.

There would also be a temporary waiver of the need for federal government approval for cantonal permits. This would mean that British citizens would be allowed to start working in Switzerland as soon as the approval from the canton has been issued. Wage levels, decent accommodation and working conditions would still be checked.

On 22 March 2019 (as we noted here), the Federal Council took the decision to issue separate work permit quotas for UK nationals (2100 B permits and 1400 L permits until the end of 2019). These quotas exceed the number of UK nationals who entered Switzerland for work with a local employment contract in 2018.

Under the agreement, the Federal Council can still independently determine the number and type of permits in future. In setting the quotas, it would take into account the interests of the economy as a whole and the precedence given to workers already resident in Switzerland.

UK Proposals for New Arrivals from the EU and EFTA in a No-Deal Scenario

According to UK government proposals, during a transitional period from a no-deal Brexit until 31 December 2020, EU citizens and citizens of EFTA states (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) would be able to enter the UK without a visa and stay, work and study for up to three months. For stays of more than three months, these nationals would have to apply for a three-year, non-extendable, temporary leave to remain.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact their Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For advice and information on immigration to the UK or to any EU member state in general, please contact us.
 Plus, ensure that your business is equipped with the very latest breaking news on what Brexit means for migration by visiting Newland Chase’s dedicated online educational resource.