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Old 21.08.2015, 08:47
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Employer threatening to withhold pay

Hello,

I gave scoured the forum for any recent threads for the same subject but didn't find quite the same issue as I'm about to share:

I have a friend who was working for a large pharmaceutical company in CH. He was with the firm for 18 months. However, during that 18 months, he suffered a burn-out (quite severe when I saw him) and went to his doctor one day on his way to work to request for 'anxiety tablets' but looking at the state of him, the doctor instead issued a medical leave certificate for 2 weeks. However, for every time he went back to the doctor, the medical leave certificate was extended as his doctor did not feel he was fit to work.

Long story short, this went on for three months ( he was entitled to at least this much leave per his contract, etc). Fast forward, SWICA gets involved and starts investigation. After confirming with SWICA that they have all the documents they need to conduct their investigation, they are still waiting to get the final results back from the doctor. In the meantime, the large firm sent him a letter that my friend did NOT send the documents to SWICA (a claim SWICA says is not true and also says the firm is aware all documents are in). Also the letter says that they will withhold pay as they will 'assume' he was fit to pay and even deduct previous pay from any future wages, etc.

Is this right? My friend tried calling his HR to explain that they were mistaken re SWICA not having the documents but only managed to leave a voicemail message as they were 'busy'. They have not responded back to him. Now he is worried that they will not pay his next months wages and he will incur fees for not being able to pay his own bills.

Is this right? I tried helping him look for any sites stating his Employee rights etc but cannot find any.
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Old 21.08.2015, 11:04
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

If your friend has a legal protection insurance it would be a good idea to involve them...
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Old 21.08.2015, 11:24
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Swiss Authorities Online (ch.ch) discusses a topic that might be of interest called "Inability to work due to illness / pregnancy – rights and obligations". Possibly this will assist you:

https://www.ch.ch/en/inability-work-...ess-pregnancy/

SWICA is involved because it is making the short-term disability payments and may be practicing "case management" soon. Your friend will need to comply with their paperwork requirements to receive short-term disability payments.

For additional information on case management, you might wish to read this Beobachter article:

http://www.beobachter.ch/geld-sicher...ger-klingelt/#
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Old 21.08.2015, 12:28
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Quite frankly, it seems very odd that they would threaten to withhold pay just because some documents are missing. This is a massive company, they will not do that easily, so I suspect there might be more to the story.

That being said, I'm quite sure he was put on 'case management' and has an assigned contact person from Swica. He should get in touch with them and have them reach out to the company. It is normal procedure as especially with burnouts, it is not unusual to withdraw from contact with the team entirely for a while and have the case manager handle all types of interaction. That's what they're there for.

A LOT has to happen for an employer to be able to withhold pay, so I wouldn't really worry about that too much rather than the obvious communication issue and - imho - suspicion from the company that you're friend might be faking his illness.
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Old 21.08.2015, 12:30
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Swiss Authorities Online (ch.ch) discusses a topic that might be of interest called "Inability to work due to illness / pregnancy – rights and obligations". Possibly this will assist you:

https://www.ch.ch/en/inability-work-...ess-pregnancy/

SWICA is involved because it is making the short-term disability payments and may be practicing "case management" soon. Your friend will need to comply with their paperwork requirements to receive short-term disability payments.

For additional information on case management, you might wish to read this Beobachter article:

http://www.beobachter.ch/geld-sicher...ger-klingelt/#
Thanks for this. I will certainly let them know.
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Old 21.08.2015, 12:33
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Swiss Authorities Online (ch.ch) discusses a topic that might be of interest called "Inability to work due to illness / pregnancy – rights and obligations". Possibly this will assist you:

https://www.ch.ch/en/inability-work-...ess-pregnancy/

SWICA is involved because it is making the short-term disability payments and may be practicing "case management" soon. Your friend will need to comply with their paperwork requirements to receive short-term disability payments.

For additional information on case management, you might wish to read this Beobachter article:

http://www.beobachter.ch/geld-sicher...ger-klingelt/#
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Quite frankly, it seems very odd that they would threaten to withhold pay just because some documents are missing. This is a massive company, they will not do that easily, so I suspect there might be more to the story.

That being said, I'm quite sure he was put on 'case management' and has an assigned contact person from Swica. He should get in touch with them and have them reach out to the company. It is normal procedure as especially with burnouts, it is not unusual to withdraw from contact with the team entirely for a while and have the case manager handle all types of interaction. That's what they're there for.

A LOT has to happen for an employer to be able to withhold pay, so I wouldn't really worry about that too much rather than the obvious communication issue and - imho - suspicion from the company that you're friend might be faking his illness.

I actually read the letter sent to him - and it did literally say exactly that because of these documents, they have to assume he was able to work, thus unjustly paid his wages. However, SWICA themselves is saying they have everything they need.
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Old 21.08.2015, 12:56
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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I actually read the letter sent to him - and it did literally say exactly that because of these documents, they have to assume he was able to work, thus unjustly paid his wages. However, SWICA themselves is saying they have everything they need.
Something lost in translation? Or did HR indeed get hold of medical documents that were not handed over to them by your friend?

Generally speaking, an employer has no right to demand or get hold of personal medical records. An employer only has the right to see the diagnosis, nothing more.

And of course it's not up to the company to decide, let alone HR. This is a medical decision.
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Old 21.08.2015, 13:19
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Yes that's another thing - medical information cannot be disclosed to third parties. There is no way the company can ask for specifics about the illness. What they can do, however, is send the employee to another doctor ("Vertrauensarzt") to confirm (or overrule) the inability to work (though still not the exact diagnosis).

Again, there must be more to the story. If this were a small company unfamiliar with such cases, well then maybe. But given this is likely to be N or R, I cannot for the life of me believe that they threaten to withhold pay just because a document is missing - and one they're not even entitled to as I'm sure they are well aware.

Or was he sent to a Vertrauensarzt who didn't reach the same diagnosis as his usual doctor and stated he was fit to work?
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Old 21.08.2015, 13:50
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Something lost in translation? Or did HR indeed get hold of medical documents that were not handed over to them by your friend?

Generally speaking, an employer has no right to demand or get hold of personal medical records. An employer only has the right to see the diagnosis, nothing more.

And of course it's not up to the company to decide, let alone HR. This is a medical decision.
Hi - what I meant to say was 'because of these alleged missing documents' - which were not missing at all as SWICA confirmed they have them.
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Old 21.08.2015, 13:53
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Yes that's another thing - medical information cannot be disclosed to third parties. There is no way the company can ask for specifics about the illness. What they can do, however, is send the employee to another doctor ("Vertrauensarzt") to confirm (or overrule) the inability to work (though still not the exact diagnosis).

Again, there must be more to the story. If this were a small company unfamiliar with such cases, well then maybe. But given this is likely to be N or R, I cannot for the life of me believe that they threaten to withhold pay just because a document is missing - and one they're not even entitled to as I'm sure they are well aware.

Or was he sent to a Vertrauensarzt who didn't reach the same diagnosis as his usual doctor and stated he was fit to work?
The firm wrote to him demanding that he cooperates with SWICA and to sign an unrestricted certificate of authority. Details of their investigation will not. be shared by SWICA with the employer. Information obtained by SWICA is merely to validate the medical leave. He signed it. This is the document the employer is saying is missing. It's not.
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Old 21.08.2015, 14:04
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Resend it and end the drama?
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Old 21.08.2015, 14:44
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Resend it and end the drama?

That was exactly what he already did. He sent it twice. Twice SWICA got it. Employer sends letter saying SWICA didn't get it. He even wrote to HR to gently tell them to pull their finger out. Latest: he received email from HR just today saying they will contact SWICA to get a status update. Progress?? Who knows.
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Old 21.08.2015, 14:59
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Resend it and end the drama?
Suggestion: send it again with registered (eingeschrieben) post. Scan and send the receipt to HR.
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Old 21.08.2015, 18:12
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Scan the damn document, send it to everyone involved via e-mail (HR, Swica, line manager if currently in touch), then copy the document and send one copy to each of those same people via registered mail.

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The firm wrote to him demanding that he cooperates with SWICA and to sign an unrestricted certificate of authority. Details of their investigation will not. be shared by SWICA with the employer. Information obtained by SWICA is merely to validate the medical leave. He signed it. This is the document the employer is saying is missing. It's not.
That is normal procedure when case management is involved and there is no obligation to sign that document, though it may have consequences or raise suspicion if someone does not. Which frankly is understandable - after all there are unfortunately many cases where an illness is faked for some reason or other (it's also sometimes recommended on EF as a way out of all kinds of situations) and it's usually easy enough to find a doctor to issue a medical note.
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Old 21.08.2015, 18:23
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Suggestion: send it again with registered (eingeschrieben) post.
That.

In and of itself a registered letter may well be perceived as aggressive, so the accompanying letter should mention why it's registered, i.e. that the issue is too important to let any misunderstandings and missing information persist. In such a case I'd use the following address:

Firm name
HR person name
Human resources
Postal code and city

as it's probably important that it be received by that HR person.
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Old 25.08.2015, 12:11
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Update: large firm did not pay his wages in despite all attempts to clarify th situation and HR director herself saying she would contact SWICA last week to request status update and also said she would get back to my friend. Now my friend tried to contact her asking why the payment was not made still and if she has contacted SWICA. Received automatic response that she is on holiday!

Is this all legal???
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Old 25.08.2015, 17:30
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

This is weird.

If your story is real, it may be time to contact the Arbeitsamt (Amt für Wirtschaft, or similar, name varies) of your friends Kanton. Alternatively, ask vsaa.ch or RAV for directions.
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Old 26.08.2015, 09:31
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

I feel there is an important detail missing
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Old 26.08.2015, 16:56
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

Further update: now large firm is not even responding to requests for status update.

I know you all think 'details are missing' or this can't be real. It is VERY real which is why we are very surprised it's even happening. And the audacity of it all and everyone at the large company.

Our next move will be to contact whoever we should be reporting this kind of stuff to and ask for legal help. We are in Canton Zug and large firm we are referring to is a well know international pharma in Zug employing tonnes of international people. In the meantime, I've had to help my friend with an emergency loan to cover his most immediate expenses. However, we are hoping this kafuffle will be resolved soon. I still can't believe this is all legal. It can't be.....right???
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Old 26.08.2015, 17:58
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Re: Employer threatening to withhold pay

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Further update: now large firm is not even responding to requests for status update.

I know you all think 'details are missing' or this can't be real. It is VERY real which is why we are very surprised it's even happening. And the audacity of it all and everyone at the large company.

Our next move will be to contact whoever we should be reporting this kind of stuff to and ask for legal help. We are in Canton Zug and large firm we are referring to is a well know international pharma in Zug employing tonnes of international people. In the meantime, I've had to help my friend with an emergency loan to cover his most immediate expenses. However, we are hoping this kafuffle will be resolved soon. I still can't believe this is all legal. It can't be.....right???
Something tells me if this is a big pharma company, presumably with an HR department, it probably is VERY legal if it's got to this state.
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