Temporary Work in Switzerland comes under Scrutiny

Posted on 01 May 2007 by info

From 2004 to 2006, the number of temporary jobs on the Swiss labor market increased by 60%. According to a study by the Swiss Central Secretariat and chief economist of the USS, temporary employment actually quadrupled since 1993. Recruitment for temporary jobs in Switzerland is growing rapidly.

During a press conference held yesterday in Berne, the authors of the study explained this evolution by three phenomena. First, the more unemployment and joblessness in Switzerland remain steady, the more temporary employment grows on the Swiss job market. As a result of not finding a stable job, the number of jobless unemployed seeking work that then accept a temporary job increases due to their fear of finding themselves still without a job when their unemployment compensation runs out. Further, temporary workers play the role of a contingency reservoir of labor in the Swiss economy. When the economy then picks up, companies draw on this labor pool and in periods of recession, temporary workers are the first to be let go.

Among the other causes of expansion, the study’s authors cite the internet (which facilitates the recruitment of workers for interim and temporary jobs), the expansionist strategies of the large international recruitment agencies, and finally the demands for flexibility on the part of the Swiss-based recruitment and job search companies for temporary assignments and short term jobs in Switzerland.

In Switzerland, the increase in temporary jobs and part-time work is in some ways a consequence of the free circulation of workers – the liberalization of the European labor market. The number of persons subject to ‘simple declaration’ (coming from the EU, for whom the maximum stay is 90 days) placed by recruitment agencies and job search firms has strongly increased. These recruitment agencies executive search firms and interim manpower companies have become a catalyst for short term assignments undertaken in Switzerland by foreign workers.

Job seekers and candidates looking for employment in Switzerland should look at the popular job search websites like topjobs, jobwinner, monster, jobup, jobpilot, executivesearch, and many others. You can apply for work in Switzerland directly online through one of these websites. Job opportunities and executive careers are available in the financial, banking, I.T. – information technology, luxury and pharmaceutical industries.

Most temporary workers hope that short-term assignments –precarious employment– will lead to a stable job. In fact this infrequently the case. Numerous young salaried workers go from assignment to assignment, temporary job to temporary job, without ever finding a permanent position or stable job. The USS also denounced the often deplorable compensation paid to temporary workers. Spot checks have shown that in over 10% of cases, the habitual minimum salaries for the profession are not respected. The downward spiral of working conditions has progressed to the point that even Adecco has publicly distanced itself from the social and salarial undermining that is taking place in the sector and has called for all temporary jobs to be subject to some sort of oversight.

The Swiss unions are taking aim as well at ‘on-call’ work, which is characterized by few hours, large availability, and hours set or cancelled at the last moment and an accompanying salary that can vary strongly from month to month. According to the Union (USS), this mounting precarity goes against a number of laws and ordinances.

The Union condemns the discounter Aldi, which hires half-time personnel to save costs on pension contributions (LPP), all the while demanding that the employee remain at the company’s disposal to work a larger number of hours if necessary. According to the unions in Switzerland, even the SECO judges such a unilateral contract unacceptable.

The unions made an example of such glaring cases of abuse in the labor markets by launching a call on May 1st in favor of decent work and against the growing precariousness of employment conditions in Switzerland. The Union intends to lead a crusade against the growing abuses in the job market and avoid the kind of working conditions which lead to a downward spiral of salaries, an aggravation of risks of accidents and a degradation in health.

Temporary workers are disadvantaged in many ways: by lack of job protection, lack of on-the-job training possibilities or continuing education, and reduced career opportunities.

This data should be placed in the context of the current labor market in Switzerland. According to recent labor surveys, 91% of Swiss claim to be happy with their working conditions. Switzerland is classed 4th –behind Denmark, Norway, and Great Britain- but well ahead of its neighbors.

Candidates from abroad who want to work in Switzerland should see our pages about work permits, salaries, companies hiring, and the best employment websites to consult.

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