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Covid hits inspections on illicit work practices

Labour inspector holding contract in hand
Spot checks focused on the construction industry, restaurants and trading companies. Keystone/Gaetan Bally

The number of abuses of labour regulations dropped slightly last year, Swiss authorities reported on Wednesday.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said the number of cases of illegal work practices decreased by about 15% among the 10,345 companies and 29,405 individuals inspected in 2020.

The cases of undercutting agreed salary levels remained stable, according to the report.

However, SecoExternal link said the Covid-19 pandemic meant a temporary suspension of some of its activities and thus a clear reduction of spot checks made.

As a result, the annual target of 35,000 inspections of foreign-based companies dispatching employees to Switzerland was not met.

Just over 34,000 companies and nearly 133,00 people were checked in 2020 – that is 6% of Swiss employers and 30% of foreign-based companies, according to Seco.

In response to the report, the Trade Union FederationExternal link said inspections were crucial to protect workers. It called for a more coherent practice in the country’s 26 cantons.

Labour inspections are part of the government’s policy against illegal work practices, including failure to report employees to the social security systems. The so-called “accompanying measures” also cover regulations of the free movement of people accords between Switzerland and other European countries.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR