The Swiss minister of Justice Simonetta Sommaruga wants refugees better integrated into the Swiss job market. Under proposed changes the special 10% tax currently applied to those on certain refugee visas will go. In addition, procedures for employing refugees will be simplified.
The Swiss Federal Council (Cabinet) will submit these proposals, designed to remove obstacles restricting access to jobs, to Parliament.
Currently refugees granted provisional status and N permits must pay a special tax of 10% for ten years or up to a maximum of CHF 15,000. This sum is designed to cover the costs of processing an asylum request.
The idea behind the changes is to give up the extra tax revenue to motivate refugees to work.
The changes were announced in December by the Federal Council and should arrive in Parliament by March.
Simonetta Sommaruga also wants to encourage employers to take on refugees. In some cantons bosses must endure a complex approval process. “Why would they do this if they can employ someone from Germany of Portugal instead?” she said. Bern wants to replace the current process with an obligation to inform the authorities. In addition, it wants to make changes to provisional refugee status, something that sometimes dissuades employers.
Integration is seen as essential. The justice minister said “If we fail to integrate, we will all pay dearly. If we succeed, everyone will benefit” underlining that primary responsibility rests with refugees themselves. Nevertheless they need a helping hand. Employers need to also pitch in and offer on-the-job training and positions.