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Old 13.06.2015, 05:05
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Need legal advice on current work situation

Hi, really glad to find this site, and seems like the community is quite active.

Long story short, the company I work for is based in Zug and is a start up. Currently the founder/CEO is thinking of putting it through bankruptcy because he could not get enough funds as promised for over a year and have not paid myself and another colleague for one year. Both of us are based in HK but the contract is with the Swiss company. Instead of trying hard to raise the necessary funds to pay off his liabilities to us, he outright said he wants to have a (very very small) settlement offer and be done with us and put the company through bankruptcy. We are suspicious that he has raised some funds but is using most of that to pay off his personal liabilities he's mounted for himself rather than paying staff.

I've heard that Swiss lawyers are quite expensive but I'd like to know whether we have a good case to go against him. The company hardly has any assets and the founder most likely would've tucked away any valuable assets elsewhere before dropping the news to us about the company. Are there any laws that protect employees from actions like this where the company can't just be forced into bankruptcy so the founder can just erase wage obligations?

Thanks and much appreciated.
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Old 13.06.2015, 08:12
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

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Hi, really glad to find this site, and seems like the community is quite active.

Long story short, the company I work for is based in Zug and is a start up. Currently the founder/CEO is thinking of putting it through bankruptcy because he could not get enough funds as promised for over a year and have not paid myself and another colleague for one year. Both of us are based in HK but the contract is with the Swiss company. Instead of trying hard to raise the necessary funds to pay off his liabilities to us, he outright said he wants to have a (very very small) settlement offer and be done with us and put the company through bankruptcy. We are suspicious that he has raised some funds but is using most of that to pay off his personal liabilities he's mounted for himself rather than paying staff.

I've heard that Swiss lawyers are quite expensive but I'd like to know whether we have a good case to go against him. The company hardly has any assets and the founder most likely would've tucked away any valuable assets elsewhere before dropping the news to us about the company. Are there any laws that protect employees from actions like this where the company can't just be forced into bankruptcy so the founder can just erase wage obligations?

Thanks and much appreciated.
Your salary is insured for 3 months regardless of the companies situation. The chance of getting more seems slim.
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:32
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

It is not clear from your post whether you are an employee (Angestellte) or a contractor. If you are an employee and the company files for bankruptcy, your unpaid salary will be considered Class 1 and any remaining assets of the bankrupt firm can be used to pay it, ahead of Class 2 and Class 3 liabilities.

If you are a contractor, I believe your receivable would be treated as a Class 3 liability, like that of any other supplier.

To obtain an overview of Swiss bankruptcy, consult ch.ch:

https://www.ch.ch/en/bankruptcy/

Also (in German):
http://www.kmu.admin.ch/nachfolge-be...x.html?lang=de

If you are an employee of the Swiss company, you might wish to read this article (German) which mentions filing a "Betreibung" (claim) against the company for unpaid wages. You could also do this as a contractor:
http://www.20min.ch/community/dossie...story/28076743
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:38
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

I very much doubt the OP is a direct employee. Betreibung is the way to go - get in first otherwise..........
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Old 13.06.2015, 09:55
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Your salary is insured for 3 months regardless of the companies situation. The chance of getting more seems slim.
Thanks for the info.

Does this make a difference whether or not we are contractors or employees?

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It is not clear from your post whether you are an employee (Angestellte) or a contractor. If you are an employee and the company files for bankruptcy, your unpaid salary will be considered Class 1 and any remaining assets of the bankrupt firm can be used to pay it, ahead of Class 2 and Class 3 liabilities.

If you are a contractor, I believe your receivable would be treated as a Class 3 liability, like that of any other supplier.

To obtain an overview of Swiss bankruptcy, consult ch.ch:

https://www.ch.ch/en/bankruptcy/

Also (in German):
http://www.kmu.admin.ch/nachfolge-be...x.html?lang=de

If you are an employee of the Swiss company, you might wish to read this article (German) which mentions filing a "Betreibung" (claim) against the company for unpaid wages. You could also do this as a contractor:
http://www.20min.ch/community/dossie...story/28076743
Thanks for this, I will definitely take a look.

Regarding debt collection then, if the company itself does not have a lot of assets, i.e. not enough to pay off wage liabilities, will the shareholder/owner be responsible for that despite the company being a limited liabilities company? I'm wondering if wages are considered different to other liabilities, but then again it will depend on the classification of our employment whether we are contractors or employees correct?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 13.06.2015 at 23:14. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 13.06.2015, 10:15
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

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Thanks for this, I will definitely take a look.

Regarding debt collection then, if the company itself does not have a lot of assets, i.e. not enough to pay off wage liabilities, will the shareholder/owner be responsible for that despite the company being a limited liabilities company?
Short answer: No.
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I'm wondering if wages are considered different to other liabilities, but then again it will depend on the classification of our employment whether we are contractors or employees correct?
If you're a contractor, your receivable will be a Class 3 in a bankruptcy, payable from the assets of the bankrupt company only after Class 1 and Class 2 debts have been paid.

A helpful document for employees who have not been paid by their employer:

http://www.awa.tg.ch/documents/Infob...endem_Lohn.pdf

If you are a contractor, you might want to consider filing a Betreibung ("debt enforcement"):

https://www.ch.ch/en/debt-enforcement-request/
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Old 13.06.2015, 12:29
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

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Short answer: No.

If you're a contractor, your receivable will be a Class 3 in a bankruptcy, payable from the assets of the bankrupt company only after Class 1 and Class 2 debts have been paid.

A helpful document for employees who have not been paid by their employer:

http://www.awa.tg.ch/documents/Infob...endem_Lohn.pdf

If you are a contractor, you might want to consider filing a Betreibung ("debt enforcement"):

https://www.ch.ch/en/debt-enforcement-request/
Thank you.

If we were to go to a labor lawyer for this case, approximately how much would the legal fees be in addition to court fees? Ball park figure would be fine.
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Old 13.06.2015, 12:33
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Re: Need legal advice on current work situation

an employment lawyer would be of little help. Follow that last link you quoted.

You are not employed by this company, you are in their supply chain supplying labour. Big difference.
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Old 13.06.2015, 12:45
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an employment lawyer would be of little help. Follow that last link you quoted.

You are not employed by this company, you are in their supply chain supplying labour. Big difference.
Thanks.
Actually my contract does not state I'm a contractor, but an employee of the company multiple times. Unless there is a different way in which a contractor is determined vs an employee. But for language purposes, the term employee is used and not contractor. Would that help in claiming Class 1?

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Your salary is insured for 3 months regardless of the companies situation. The chance of getting more seems slim.
How can the salary insurance be claimed? I'm assuming a formal petition to a govt entity?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 13.06.2015 at 23:14. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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