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Old 10.12.2015, 10:18
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Salary oddness for my wife's new job

Hello,

I was hoping for a little advice from someone who is a little more familiar with Swiss employment law.

My wife has recently started a new job, quite excited by it - however the salary offered was less than we expected for her type of role. They have now chosen to reduce the salary by 10% and are saying that they will reclaim the overpaid amount from her first months salary!?

Following interview, my wife was offered the position over the phone and the salary was mentioned on the phone.

She later went in to sign her contract and noticed that the offered amount had been dropped by 10%, but assumed it was netto rather than bruto and signed anyway, keen to start the following week. She later asked to clarify the salary, as it was her translations from German to English that led her to believe it was stated as netto vs the bruto offer Odd, I know...

Her first salary comes through, at the higher rate - the one she was offered over the phone.

The other day she has received an email from HR, stating that her salary would be corrected this month and the overpayment from last month would be deducted from this months wage.

Having looked into this further, it seems she was correct in the offer that came from the HR lady - the original offer over the phone was the higher amount.

Apparently the manager of the hiring department, following the offer, demanded that HR reduce the salary to the 10% lower amount... without consultation with my wife.

Given that she signed the contract at the lower amount, I'm pretty sure the answer is that she's just going to have to suck it up and get on with it.

But what about the salary deduction this month? The money has already been spent in good faith, in the UK they would not be able to do this.

I've already advised her to start looking for a new job.

It's not the smallest company, but it's not one of the mega-companies... probably 300-400 employees at her location and more elsewhere.

Thanks
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:21
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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..............She later went in to sign her contract and noticed that the offered amount had been dropped by 10%, but assumed it was netto rather than bruto and signed anyway, keen to start the following week.............
Did she sign the contract though?
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:22
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

They can certainly correct a salary over-payment at any time.

Tom
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:25
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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Did she sign the contract though?
Yes, she did.
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:27
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

If she signed the contract, the amount in it is binding.

If she didn't sign the written contract, and asserted that the version given over the phone was the correct amount, then the verbal contract would be binding.

This would be further backed up by them actually paying the higher amount.
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:30
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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If she signed the contract, the amount in it is binding.

If she didn't sign the written contract, and asserted that the version given over the phone was the correct amount, then the verbal contract would be binding.

This would be further backed up by them actually paying the higher amount.
Thanks,

What she is asserting is that the phone amount was correct and the contracted amount was unclear - given that it was offered to her in German and her queries went unanswered until after she began work.

This company operates in English and it is company policy to translate anything written in German for any non-German speakers.

Her first salary was paid at the amount offered over the phone.
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:33
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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Thanks,

What she is asserting is that the phone amount was correct and the contracted amount was unclear - given that it was offered to her in German and her queries went unanswered until after she began work.

This company operates in English and it is company policy to translate anything written in German for any non-German speakers.

Her first salary was paid at the amount offered over the phone.
So your wife was confused - failed to get clarification - and signed anyway?

I am sure she can ask for the wages to be corrected to the higher version but she may have to accept it is not going to happen and that she is experiencing a classic corporate "Mr Left Hand meet Mr Right Hand - you 2 should get to know each other" situation.
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:37
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

Yes, she went in on Friday to sign the contract to start work on the Monday.
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Old 10.12.2015, 10:52
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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Thanks,

What she is asserting is that the phone amount was correct and the contracted amount was unclear - given that it was offered to her in German and her queries went unanswered until after she began work.

This company operates in English and it is company policy to translate anything written in German for any non-German speakers.

Her first salary was paid at the amount offered over the phone.
The law on this is pretty clear - if you sign it you are also accepting that you understand it.

It's unfortunate, but there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done other than learn from the experience.
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Old 10.12.2015, 11:01
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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But what about the salary deduction this month? The money has already been spent in good faith, in the UK they would not be able to do this.
Yes they would. In extreme circumstances, let's say a100 times overpayment, one could even be prosecuted for theft if you'd spent it all, on the assumption that it was obviously an error. Not the case here, obviously, but the law is on the side of the employer in case of accidental overpayment.
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Old 10.12.2015, 11:14
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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The money has already been spent in good faith, in the UK they would not be able to do this.
What makes you say that?

Payslip adjustments are commonplace here and in the UK, the only rule I'm aware of is that they shouldn't cause undue difficulty (and that's probably more of a guideline than a rule).

If it has been spent and it's a problem, she should ask for it to be taken off more slowly over a few months. But for 10% they may say no, and it would be difficult to argue that's particularly unreasonable.
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Old 10.12.2015, 11:23
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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But what about the salary deduction this month? The money has already been spent in good faith, in the UK they would not be able to do this.
On this point - you're wrong. IIRC it was Travis Perkins that accidently paid all its staff twice one month. The staff were obliged to return the money.

If the contract had a stated amount and the payslip was different it was your wife's responsibility to query it then and there and not assume she was being paid the higher amount.

Your question has now been answered - what more do you want from the forum?
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Old 10.12.2015, 12:50
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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The law on this is pretty clear - if you sign it you are also accepting that you understand it.

It's unfortunate, but there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done other than learn from the experience.
Maybe in Switzerland, but one could argue that everything was agreed verbally and the paper thing was a "just a formality" and in the worst case the company was deliberately trying to cheat you. Like if you hire a car and the guy explains that the excess is 500 and you sign the form and later see that it's 1000. Is the law "ha ha you've signed it now!"?

Seeing as the first salary was made at, let's call it, the correct amount it would seem to me that the contract was at best a clerical error - a typo if you like and someone later saw that it was different and decided to make the error in their favour.

I'd say you should appeal to the company's sense of fair play, if they have one, otherwise you're going to feel like a sucker every day. Taking legal action against your employer also isn't a great option but going to a workers council or something might help. Otherwise you say fix it or you leave.

My first contract here had my daily rate at 2.5 times what it should have been. Would they have paid me because we had both signed the contract? Of course not. I've also been offered 10% pay cuts on a take it or leave it basis.
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Old 10.12.2015, 13:00
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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Maybe in Switzerland, but one could argue that everything was agreed verbally and the paper thing was a "just a formality" and in the worst case the company was deliberately trying to cheat you. Like if you hire a car and the guy explains that the excess is 500 and you sign the form and later see that it's 1000. Is the law "ha ha you've signed it now!"?

Seeing as the first salary was made at, let's call it, the correct amount it would seem to me that the contract was at best a clerical error - a typo if you like and someone later saw that it was different and decided to make the error in their favour.

I'd say you should appeal to the company's sense of fair play, if they have one, otherwise you're going to feel like a sucker every day. Taking legal action against your employer also isn't a great option but going to a workers council or something might help. Otherwise you say fix it or you leave.

My first contract here had my daily rate at 2.5 times what it should have been. Would they have paid me because we had both signed the contract? Of course not. I've also been offered 10% pay cuts on a take it or leave it basis.
You can of course argue that, and a law court can take reasonableness and obvious mistakes into account.

But yes the law is very explicit that a signed contract is binding unless a court decides it was unlawfully unreasonable. That is simple fact.

So in your last example - maybe they would have paid the 2.5x. But as you rightly point out, only to the limit of your notice period and with obvious career risks.
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Old 10.12.2015, 13:22
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

Assuming it is not a fixed term contract: She can terminate the agreement with 7 days notice period (during the trial period) and request a new contract with the higher salary...
... there is of course the risk that she does not get a new contract.
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Old 10.12.2015, 13:26
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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So in your last example - maybe they would have paid the 2.5x. But as you rightly point out, only to the limit of your notice period and with obvious career risks.
Don't be silly :-)
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Old 10.12.2015, 13:32
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

In your wife's position I would not have signed the contract until the discrepancy was explained. It would have been wise to seek advice before signing.

Either this has arisen due to incompetence (or genuine error) by the employer or they figured on trying to get the employee to accept a smaller salary. To say it was a con would be a bit strong as the lower salary was on the contract in black and white. Sailing close to the wind might be a better choice of phrase.

Either way I could not see myself working there longterm if they display such a poor attitude to new hires.
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Old 10.12.2015, 13:59
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

I was once overpaid 25k.

They asked that I return it in cash (which I did).

Tom
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Old 10.12.2015, 14:06
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

In 5 rappen pieces
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Old 10.12.2015, 14:43
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Re: Salary oddness for my wife's new job

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Assuming it is not a fixed term contract: She can terminate the agreement with 7 days notice period (during the trial period) and request a new contract with the higher salary...
... there is of course the risk that she does not get a new contract.
I really do feel your frustration and more- and yet it is as in the above in reality- however unfair it seems, and is. The employers know this, and that they can cancel the contract without any explanation in the first few months
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