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Old 22.02.2013, 18:44
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Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

I am currently on "gardening leave" from one of the two big Swiss banks, as my position is being eliminated for economic reasons. My employment contract will end on June 30th however I plan to permanently leave Switzerland by the end of March in order to look for a job in Canada. I have informed HR and my line manager about this and they have expressed no objections.

Last week I asked HR to provide me with a confirmation of employment (Arbeitsbestaetigung) in English. The initial response that I have received from them is that they are unlikely to provide me with one, since it is against their HR & legal procedures and regulations.

Today I have followed up both verbally and via email to HR formally requesting an Arbeitsbestaetigung and also told them that I am willing to forego a consolidated reference (Vollzeugnis) as long as I get the Arbeitbestaetigung. They have responded that it will be looked into, however without saying how long it will take to communicate a decision.

I am concerned that they might drag their feet and try to "run the clock out", since I am planning to deregister with the authorities by the first week of March and finally leave the country by the end of March. My understanding (based on the info under: www.arbeitsbestaetigung.ch) is that they are legally obliged to provide me with an Arbeitsbestaetigung upon request, especially if I am willing to forego a Vollzeugnis. However, it is not clear to me whether I can "force" them to provide one prior to the time the employment contract ends, or only thereafter.

Does anyone on EF know the answer to this? Alternatively, would it be worthwhile for me to consult a lawyer at this time, before I deregister? If yes, can anyone recommend a good lawyer who deals with employment law? I don't have legal insurance, so cost would be a factor in the decision.
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Old 22.02.2013, 19:25
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

Why do you need it?
If you will leave the company anyway, then why not ask directly for the reference / Zeugnis?
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Old 22.02.2013, 19:44
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Why do you need it?
If you will leave the company anyway, then why not ask directly for the reference / Zeugnis?
I think we are missing some vital information here.
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Old 22.02.2013, 23:41
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Why do you need it?
If you will leave the company anyway, then why not ask directly for the reference / Zeugnis?
Following reasons:
1) Reference/Zeugnis is a Swiss/European document containing coded language that would not be familiar/meaningful to potential employers in N. America and it is difficult to anticipate how such a document might be interpreted by them. In contrast, a confirmation of employment is a commonly used/accepted document for establishing prior employment history in N. America.
2) HR has not agreed to provide a Zeugnis in English. In fact, they told me that they would not even provide a single consolidated Zeugnis document, but rather a collection of documents consisting of Zwischenzeugnisse in German, each of which refers back to the prior ones. I consider this to be totally unacceptable. Instead, I would prefer a simple one-pager in English that simply confirms my period of employment and the functions I performed. This should be much less effort for them to produce and surely within the capabilities of a large Swiss/international bank!
3) According to my (limited) understanding of Swiss employment law, the employer is required to provide a conf of employment/Arbeitsbestaetigung if requested by the employee. What is not clear to me is the timing, as explained in my original post.
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Old 23.02.2013, 08:32
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

I've worked for Credit Suisse until last year and can share the following experience:

- Obviously the HR department has a high load, and they are using external consultants who might not be up to the task. It shouldn't be any problem to get a confirmation of employment and you're still legally entitled to request a full reference letter as well at any point during or after you worked there. Just make clear you want the confirmation, probably it's a languae issue?
- Credit Suisse also tries to avoid giving a reference letter that describes the whole time of employment, instead they just refer to interim reference letters in the past.EVEN THOUGH my line manager provided them with a consolidated qualification (filled in standard template) for the whole time and they still wanted it to do "their own way". I insisted and pointed out my legal right to get a "complete" refererence letter. It took them about 3 months and and for me three emails to ask about the current status.

All these issues are trivially to resolve by handing them over to a lawyer. But as of my understanding it's not about bad will, they are just overloaded with work.
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Old 23.02.2013, 09:53
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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I've worked for Credit Suisse until last year and can share the following experience:

- Obviously the HR department has a high load, and they are using external consultants who might not be up to the task. It shouldn't be any problem to get a confirmation of employment and you're still legally entitled to request a full reference letter as well at any point during or after you worked there. Just make clear you want the confirmation, probably it's a languae issue?
- Credit Suisse also tries to avoid giving a reference letter that describes the whole time of employment, instead they just refer to interim reference letters in the past.EVEN THOUGH my line manager provided them with a consolidated qualification (filled in standard template) for the whole time and they still wanted it to do "their own way". I insisted and pointed out my legal right to get a "complete" refererence letter. It took them about 3 months and and for me three emails to ask about the current status.

All these issues are trivially to resolve by handing them over to a lawyer. But as of my understanding it's not about bad will, they are just overloaded with work.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences; this is very helpful. I am also dealing with CS.

I have made it very clear to the external HR consultant verbally and in writing (and also copied her boss on my emails) that I want the confirmation of employment. Language is not an issue in this case. Let's see if I get a more positive response to my latest request.

I was/am also concerned whether I might lose any legal standing to pursue this further upon leaving Switzerland, just in case they are not forthcoming.
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Old 23.02.2013, 10:01
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

You could sign up with RAV. They will then be able to support you in getting what you need and what they are obliged to give you. Or as suggested, involve a lawyer. That will get them moving.
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Old 23.02.2013, 10:14
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

Is the problem because you want the documents in English? Are they willing to provide them in German?
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Old 23.02.2013, 10:45
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Is the problem because you want the documents in English? Are they willing to provide them in German?
English is the official Business language at CS.
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Old 23.02.2013, 11:11
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Is the problem because you want the documents in English? Are they willing to provide them in German?
No, their currently stated position is that they will not provide the conf of employment in any language.
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Old 23.02.2013, 11:13
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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You could sign up with RAV. They will then be able to support you in getting what you need and what they are obliged to give you. Or as suggested, involve a lawyer. That will get them moving.
Not planning to sign up with RAV as I am planning to leave the country soon (even before my employment contract ends) and will not be collecting any unemployment insurance.
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Old 23.02.2013, 11:33
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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English is the official Business language at CS.
It is at UBS as well, but all references I've seen are in one of the national languages.
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Old 23.02.2013, 11:40
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

Your employee is required by law to give you either a confirmation of employment or a full reference letter, in the local spoken langauge), latest by the end of the termination period (exit date).

About the only time these documents are not provided is if the employee leaves (or is dismissed) under dubious circumstances.
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Old 23.02.2013, 13:04
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About the only time these documents are not provided is if the employee leaves (or is dismissed) under dubious circumstances.
Which I suspect is the issue were dealing with here.
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Old 23.02.2013, 15:24
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

Yeah, but for things like a Zeugnis for employees working in the Swiss market, one of the official Swiss languages will be used - probably and of course IANAL and IANAA and this advice is worth every penny the EF paid for it :-)

Cheers,
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English is the official Business language at CS.
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Old 23.02.2013, 17:55
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Following reasons:
1) Reference/Zeugnis is a Swiss/European document containing coded language that would not be familiar/meaningful to potential employers in N. America and it is difficult to anticipate how such a document might be interpreted by them. In contrast, a confirmation of employment is a commonly used/accepted document for establishing prior employment history in N. America.
Do you appreciate that using coded language is illegal and that you can expect to get drafts of the reference letter for comment before it is finalised...
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Old 23.02.2013, 18:04
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Do you appreciate that using coded language is illegal and that you can expect to get drafts of the reference letter for comment before it is finalised...
Perhaps a crap coded letter is better than an uncoded one that tells the truth?
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Old 23.02.2013, 18:13
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Perhaps a crap coded letter is better than an uncoded one that tells the truth?
It is also illegal to give someone a bad reference - but a letter that simply confirms employment is suggestive of a bad reference!!!
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Old 23.02.2013, 18:16
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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It is also illegal to give someone a bad reference - but a letter that simply confirms employment is suggestive of a bad reference!!!
I don't see if it's true it could be 'bad', there is nothing open to interpretation!
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Old 23.02.2013, 18:47
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Re: Employer unwilling to provide Confirmation of Employment

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Your employee is required by law to give you either a confirmation of employment or a full reference letter, in the local spoken langauge), latest by the end of the termination period (exit date).

About the only time these documents are not provided is if the employee leaves (or is dismissed) under dubious circumstances.
I actually got a full consolidated Arbeitszeugnis from a large Swiss company in English as my career is quite international in nature; having something in English is a safe bet (and English doesn't have the coded expressions that German does). In all honesty, I've never been asked for a Zeugnis by any Swiss employer I've worked for. Reading coded letters is a hiring practice from the Stone Age in all honesty!

My understanding is that if your performance was dismal, you will get an Arbeitsbestätigung. It should be ok to use in North America, but you certainly don't want to show one of those to an employer in Switzerland!
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