Government gets tough on illegal work practices

Many illegal workers are attracted to seasonal labour, such as construction Keystone Archive

The government has proposed levying fines of up to SFr1 million in a crackdown on employers who hire illegal workers.

This content was published on January 16, 2002 - 16:18

The cabinet on Wednesday outlined a series of tough new sanctions that would make hiring illegal workers less attractive to employers, and would stem the government's annual loss of millions of francs in revenue.

A recent survey estimated that illegal work in Switzerland amounted to some SFr37 billion ($22 billion), or 9.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, in 2001.

"The goal is, at least, to prevent any further increase," of illegal hiring, said Swiss Economics Minister Pascal Couchepin, In particular, the government will target "organised, criminal and scandalous" illegal labour.

The proposed measures include banning employers who have hired illegal workers from applying for public contracts. The cabinet wants cantons to step up cooperation to fight moonlighting.

Registering workers

The cabinet plans to remove administrative hurdles to registering workers with a social insurance scheme in order to improve the situation of domestic staff, according to a statement released by the economics ministry on Wednesday.

The statement said illegal work practices deprived the state and social insurance services of important revenue - taxes, for instance -- and led to a weakening of the position of workers. That occurred because the employers do not make the necessary payments to mandatory old age, sickness or unemployment insurance schemes.

The amount of illegal work conducted puts Switzerland below average compared with other industrialised countries. However, experts say illegal work practices will continue to increase in Switzerland in the next few years.

The measures proposed by the government will now go to parliament for debate.

swissinfo with agencies

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