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Old 22.03.2016, 20:00
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Furlough

My wife is half way through a 6 month contract with one of the Insurance Companies in Zürich and has just been told by her agency that the company have told them that she has to take 2 weeks furlough between now and the end of April. She's been told that this is mandatory.

Her agency (not going to name them, but they're small and often don't seem to know what they're doing) have told her that they're just passing on the message from the company and that there is nothing they can do.

Someone she works with has told her that he believes that forcing people to take time off is against Swiss law, but wasn't able to give her any links to prove that.

Does anyone have any experience of furlough or able to provide links to official sources about the legality of it.
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Old 22.03.2016, 20:49
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Re: Furlough

I assume you are referring to regular vacation days (I'm not a native English speaker and unfamiliar with the term furlough)

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Someone she works with has told her that he believes that forcing people to take time off is against Swiss law, but wasn't able to give her any links to prove that.
Nope it's not.

In general, the employer decides when their employees can take time off, though there is usually some sort of consultation, discussion or agreement with the employees. However, if the company decides that the employee(s) have to take vacation at some specific time (also e.g. in the case of company holidays or extra holidays between public holidays or whatnot), then that is their right and the employee has to go along with it.


http://www.cms-vep.com/Hubbard.FileS...ary%202011.pdf under vacation entitlement
http://www.seco.admin.ch/themen/0038...sprungmarke0_5 (German)
https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifi...dex.html#a329c (paragraph 329c, German)


Granted, they could have given a little more notice...
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Old 22.03.2016, 20:53
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Re: Furlough

Only thing what could happen is that you should take any remaining days from the prior year until the end of March/April. But that can´t be the case here as your wife hasn´t worked there the prior year

Last edited by roegner; 22.03.2016 at 20:53. Reason: typo
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Old 22.03.2016, 20:55
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Re: Furlough

The first Swiss company I worked for had required vacation last week of July and first week of August, as production shut down, but I and some others were exempt (basically, most people in engineering who mainly worked independantly of others).

Tom
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:03
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Re: Furlough

Better double check just in case number 2 applies here.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/furlough

No work, no pay.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:09
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Re: Furlough

Yes, it is number 2.

It is not vacation that she has requested and would then be agreed with her employer. It is the employer saying, we don't want you to work so you have to take 2 weeks off whether you want to or not.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:09
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Re: Furlough

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My wife is half way through a 6 month contract ... and has just been told by her agency
Let's assume that your wife is employed by the agency, i.e. the agency is an employer.

According to Swiss law, the agency may instruct your wife to take her vacation days whenever it pleases _the agency_. (In Real Life, some sort of coordination should be going on, as defined by law)

According to Swiss law, taking two consecutive weeks off is _mandatory_.

See https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classifi...dex.html#a329c for the legalese.

As far as the motivation of the ultimate customer is concerned - there can be numerous reasons. Not enough work (too many resources around). Cost management. Internal compliance (people must take time off to validate that deputization works). External compliance (application of Swiss law to contractors, too).

Options: Ask the ultimate customer for the reasons and wiggle from that end onto the agency, if deemed useful.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:17
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Re: Furlough

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Yes, it is number 2.

It is not vacation that she has requested and would then be agreed with her employer. It is the employer saying, we don't want you to work so you have to take 2 weeks off whether you want to or not.
OK, different story then.

Her employer is the agency. So what is the reason they're giving for her to have to take time off unpaid?

How is she being paid? Hourly? Monthly?

Does it only concern her or others too?

Forcing an employee to take unpaid leave is, in general, not legal. However, depending on the details of the contract, there may be a loophole, hence the above questions.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:18
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Re: Furlough

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It is the employer saying, we don't want you to work so you have to take 2 weeks off whether you want to or not.
You need to be very clear on who that "employer" is.

The customer (the insurance company) will tell the agency to stop delivering, for whatever reason, within the terms of the contract between the agency and the customer. The agency will have to comply.

How the _agency_ (the employer of your wife) deals with that is an entirely different matter. Forced paid vacation is one option. Unpaid time off - well, not possible until it's in the employment contract (or if both parties add it). Finally, there is the concept of "Kurzarbeit" which could result in compensation via the RAV (http://www.seco.admin.ch/themen/0038...html?lang=de); no idea whether that could be applicable to this scenario.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:32
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Re: Furlough

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I assume you are referring to regular vacation days (I'm not a native English speaker and unfamiliar with the term furlough..
You're not alone. I am a native English speaker and I didn't know what he meant by it either.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:38
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Re: Furlough

OK, hopefully I can give the full story.

The employer is the agency that she has a contract with. they have advised her by phone, followed up by email that they have been notified by the Insurance Company that she is required to take the 2 weeks furlough. They have given no reason, just that it is under instructions from their client. They told her that she wouldn't be paid for this time, but that she does have a holiday allowance in her daily rate - she is paid monthly by the agency for days worked in the previous month and is on a daily rate.

She is the only contractor in the department that she works in and none of the permanent staff have been told they have to take time off.

Her supervisor at the Insurance Company has told her that he does not know the reason why it has been done as there is plenty of work (he got notification from his line management, but not a reason), so we can only assume that it is a cost cutting exercise.
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Old 22.03.2016, 21:41
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Re: Furlough

I only know from banking that in some departments they ask you to take holidays. The "joke" people make is that this is to see if you have any dodgy deals going on.

I find it strange that her supervisor does not know why. Surely he/she has had to sign off for the holidays?
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Old 22.03.2016, 22:08
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Re: Furlough

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I only know from banking that in some departments they ask you to take holidays. The "joke" people make is that this is to see if you have any dodgy deals going on.
That's the norm in any company strong on (internal) compliance. Happens to any resource - internal and external alike.

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I find it strange that her supervisor does not know why. Surely he/she has had to sign off for the holidays?
It's not holidays. The supervisor has been told to drop 10 days of cost, so he is telling the agency to stop delivering for 10 days.

Problem solved for the CFO, problem caused for the supervisor, agency routes through, freelance person unhappy for lack of turnover (income).
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Old 22.03.2016, 22:10
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Re: Furlough

Probably because I am not a native speaker but I interpreted furlough as holidays?

Edit:
This article is about a temporary layoff legal in the United States. For other uses, see Furlough (disambiguation).
In the United States, a furlough (/ˈfɜːrloʊ/; from Dutch: verlof, "leave of absence") is a temporary leave of some employees due to special needs of a company, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole. These involuntary furloughs may be short or long term, and many of those affected may seek other temporary employment during that time.

Last edited by roegner; 22.03.2016 at 22:11. Reason: adding
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Old 22.03.2016, 22:44
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Re: Furlough

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Yes, it is number 2.

It is not vacation that she has requested and would then be agreed with her employer. It is the employer saying, we don't want you to work so you have to take 2 weeks off whether you want to or not.
If she looks at her pay-slip she will see she has had holiday pay take each month. She will be paid from this during the two weeks. I know it does not seem fair, but these are the conditions you sigh up to in Switzerland as a contractor.
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Old 22.03.2016, 22:56
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Re: Furlough

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According to Swiss law, taking two consecutive weeks off is _mandatory_.
perhaps, but it's not enforced.

In 30 years of having five weeks vacation time (plus 14 or so holidays), I've almost never taken two weeks or more consecutively (perhaps four or five times in 30 years), and some years rarely more than five days (I prefer long weekends).

Tom
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Old 22.03.2016, 23:37
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Re: Furlough

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perhaps, but (two consecutive weeks of vacation by law is) not enforced.
The interesting thing about Switzerland is the presence of so many codified rules - and then the ruled simply make their own rules

I believe enforcement is, let's say, contextual. In my little universe, it's not really enforced as HR is too weak, the employees are too strong (no kidding), and the company gets away with it.
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Old 22.03.2016, 23:48
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Re: Furlough

Is a furlough the same thing as Kurzarbeit (short time work)?
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Old 23.03.2016, 06:20
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Re: Furlough

Thanks for all the replies.

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Finally, there is the concept of "Kurzarbeit" which could result in compensation via the RAV
Having read this and another page on ch.ch there's a couple of interesting points. Firstly that the employer needs to notify the Canton in writing of their intention to apply short-time work at least 10 days prior to implementation and secondly that the employee can reject the request.

Trying to decide now whether my wife should ask her Agency when they notified the Canton and what the response was. My guess, as they're a small non-Swiss agency, is that they won't have a clue what she is talking about. Or for her to take the email notification to the Unemployment Office and discuss it with them.

She isn't planning on renewing her contract, so she's not really got anything to lose by refusing to accept the request as by the time they've given her notice she would only have about a month left any way.
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Old 23.03.2016, 10:22
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Re: Furlough

I agree that's probably the best way forward.

If she were employed by the actual insurance company, this type of 'arrangement' would probably not fly that easily, but I'm really at a loss when it comes to contracting arrangements. Unfortunately, these days, there's too many contractors and contingent labor employed through a variety of agencies who, more often than not, have no idea what they're doing (or simply know nothing of local labor laws), and issue all kinds of strange contracts and agreements. And when things go wrong or get difficult, the 'employee' usually gets the short end of the stick.

I hope you can find a solution here.
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