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European-level Representation


Because Switzerland is not a member of either the EU or the EEA there is no obligation to adopt directives on employees’ representation. There are therefore no legal provisions on the implementation of Directive 2009/38/EC on European works councils or Directive 2001/86/EC on SE works councils.

European works councils

The Swiss trade unions have from the outset been active in trying to set up European works councils in Swiss companies affected by Directive 2009/38/EC. Out of around 110 Swiss companies which come within the scope of Directive 2009/38/EC, 50 have a European works council or another procedure for the purpose of informing and consulting employees, conforming to the directive.1 In most cases (36), it has been possible to delegate employee representatives from the Swiss parts of companies to these bodies. In these undertakings, experts from Swiss trade unions often assist the European works council. In addition, there are also numerous groups with their headquarters in the EU or in other countries and subsidiaries in Switzerland, which permit employee representatives from Switzerland. Out of 420 EU or non-EU companies with an European works council, having subsidiaries in Switzerland, 145 permit employee representatives from Switzerland.2

As a rule, in Swiss establishments it is the staff committees that elect representatives to the European works council but there is no legal basis for such elections.

European Company (SE)

This enterprise form does not appear to be particularly attractive to Swiss companies. So far, five Swiss undertakings – Clariant, Swiss Re, Alpiq, Swisscom and Weleda – have established a ‘normal’ European company, usually as a subsidiary of the Swiss parent. This is to combine the businesses, or parts of the business in some EU countries.

Hans Baumann (2014) for worker-participation.eu