The Swiss government has allocated up to 3,500 work permits to let employers recruit staff from the UK, which will no longer be covered by Swiss free-movement rules with the EU post-Brexit.
Under the system 3,500 British citizens coming to Switzerland for the first time will be allowed to work in the country.
“This ensures the required flexibility for Swiss business,” the Bern government said in a statement.
“This is intended to mitigate the consequences for the economy… of an abrupt change in the status of British citizens from persons benefiting from freedom of movement to third country nationals,” it added.
“It will also prevent undesirable competition for jobs between British citizens and other third country nationals.”
The UK permit contingent will initially apply for one year and will be released to Swiss administrations every three months.
It comes as the current bilateral Swiss–EU Agreement on the free movement of persons (AFMP) will cease to apply to British nationals when the UK formally leaves the bloc on 31 December.
Time is running thin for Britain to secure a trade deal with the EU ahead of the transition period deadline.
Trade negotiations have restarted this week over Zoom, after a member of the EU’s negotiating team tested positive for Covid last Thursday.
Any deal between Britain and EU would need to be ratified by parliaments on both sides, meaning the next few days are crucial for any hopes to secure an agreement between the two parties.
European Commission chief Ursula von Der Leyen this morning said that the EU cannot guarantee a trade deal with Britain, and is now preparing for a no-deal Brexit.
“The next days are going to be decisive. The European Union is well prepared for a no-deal scenario,” von der Leyen told the European Parliament.
“With very little time ahead of us, we will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We are ready to be creative”, she said.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey yesterday warned that a no-deal Brexit would leave worse long-term economic scarring for the UK than the coronavirus pandemic.
Bailey told a Westminster committee there was “no question” a no-deal Brexit would be worse long-term than Covid as crunch talks between the two sides enter their final hour.
“The long-term effects… I think would be larger than the long-term effects of Covid,” he said.
“It is in the best interests of both sides…for there to be a trade agreement and for that trade agreement to have a strong element of goodwill around it in terms of how it is implemented.”
Earlier this month, City A.M. reported that Brussels looks set to lock the City of London out of European markets from 1 January, with the EU not planning on granting regulatory equivalence before the end of the Brexit transition period.
The decision will mark a serious blow for the City of London, which has repeatedly called for a fresh EU-wide deal.
The UK exports around £26bn of financial services to the EU annually.
Goldman Sachs earlier this month announced it will shift as much as $60bn (£45.5bn) of assets to Germany, as the banking giant becomes the latest City stalwart to beef up EU operations ahead of Brexit.
The Wall Street bank, which has previously warned that a “difficult” Brexit would impact its investment plans in the UK, will shift between $40bn to $60bn to its Frankfurt division ahead of the transition period deadline.