We were all happy about the more flexible attitude of the authorities in the EU and EFTA member states and Switzerland. In the meantime, everyone is talking about the fact that it is possible to work from home as a cross-border commuter up to 49.9% of the time without any change in social security status.
However, when taking a closer look, there are a few things to consider. The following case study is intended to shed more light on this.
Lisa Meier is a member of the social media team at Drinks AG and is responsible for Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. She is employed by a company in Zurich (Switzerland) and lives in Freiburg (Germany). She is married and has a 4-year-old daughter. With the birth of their daughter, the couple moved to Germany. Both are Swiss nationals.
Drinks AG allows her to work very flexibly, so she has been able to work 4 days from home or go to the Drinks GmbH office in Freiburg (Germany) from time to time and only had to come to the office in Zurich on one day. On her office day, her husband brought and collected her daughter from childcare, on the other days she could do this herself without any problems.
Lisa Meier is excellent at her job and Drinks AG would not want to lose her. With the change as of 1 July 2023, they looked at her situation with her and discussed the possible options.
As part of her job, she had to go to the German office once a fortnight and the Austrian office once a fortnight.
Lisa Meier had previously paid social security contributions in Switzerland and health insurance in Germany. A cross-border commuter permit was obtained for the job in Switzerland.
What is the social security status for Ms Meier from 1 July 2023?
Until 30 June 2023, Lisa Meier could work from home for as many days as necessary and remain subject to social security in Switzerland.
With the new regulation as of 1 July 2023, this option no longer exists. In principle, she could work from home for up to 49.9% and remain subject to social security in Switzerland. In practice, the 49.9% could be implemented as follows: 2 days of home office in one week and 3 days in the following week, always alternating.
However, it is problematic that she also regularly works in the German and Austrian offices of Drinks AG.
This is because the 50% rule only applies in the case of an exclusive home office activity in the country of residence. If one performs additional regular activities in the country of residence or in another EU or EFTA state, the original 25% rule applies.
For Lisa Meier, this would mean that if she still has to go to the German and Austrian offices regularly, she can only work from home for a maximum of 24.9%, so that she can continue to be subject to social security in Switzerland. In practice, the 2 or 3 days per week would then become 1 or 2 days per week.
Drinks AG offers Ms. Meier the following three options:
- Option 1: No change in her duties and with the option of working from home as many days as she wants, but with the change of employment. Since in this scenario, she would be subject to compulsory social security in Germany, they would like to employ her accordingly in Germany. The HR of Drinks AG in Switzerland is aware that possible salary adjustments to the German salary level may still have to be negotiated with Ms. Meier.
- Option 2: No change in her duties, but she is only allowed to work in a home office 1 or 2 days per week. Her terms of employment remain as before.
- Option 3: Changes in duties with the possibility of 2 or 3 home office days per week. The responsibility for Germany and Austria would be given to another employee. This would also result in a salary adjustment. However, Ms. Meier could then remain subject to the Swiss social security system.
Even if the new rules and the increase in the home office option to 49.9% bring great relief for many employees and companies, one must still look at the details (such as regular work in other EU or EFTA states and secondary employment) of each case. A regular review is important for these circumstances so that possible incorrect social security coverage can be corrected quickly.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.