ZURICH Swiss efforts to curb immigration from the European Union without provoking a clash with Brussels cleared a final hurdle on Friday when parliament agreed not to adopt outright quotas on newcomers.
The law stops far short of the upper limits on immigration that Swiss voters had demanded in a 2014 referendum. Most lawmakers in parliament feared that curtailing the free movement of people could endanger enhanced Swiss access to the EU single market.
The government must still draw up a decree implementing the legislation in detail, but here is how the new law works:
* In an effort to fight unemployment, Switzerland at times of economic upheaval can adopt for a limited time measures to promote hiring of local people.
* Employers in sectors or regions with above-average jobless rates must inform local job centres of vacancies and in return get names of applicants from the rolls of the unemployed.
* Employers have to invite qualified applicants to job interviews but parliament removed an original provision requiring them to justify decisions not to hire candidates.
* The government can make exemptions to the vacancies reporting and interview rules, for instance for family companies or staff rejoining previous employers. Employers who violate them face fines of up to 40,000 Swiss francs.
* To the annoyance of the right-wing Swiss People's Party, which backed the 2014 referendum, cross-border commuters to Swiss jobs plus citizens from EU or EFTA countries can register with a Swiss job centre and get the same treatment as Swiss.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Tom Heneghan)