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Old 22.09.2015, 18:37
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Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Hi all,
I have been a happy postdoc in Switzerland for several years now. But, due to the strong Swiss franc (in compassion to the Euro), the project I’m working in has lost somewhat 25% of its budget just because of the changes in the exchange rates since the beginning of the year. My boss therefore informed me that I will lose a substantial part of my salary from the beginning of the next year. Is this possible or even legal in Switzerland if we have a signed contract with the salary written on it? Are there no social “safety nets” to protect against things I can’t control? If not, is there any funding I can ask for?
Happy if you can help me!
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Old 22.09.2015, 18:42
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Most postdocs I know are contracted for a year, the positions have a high turnover. I am not sure if you got a leg to stand on, I think maybe contacting other postdocs at your particular institution would tell you. Hope it works out for you!

I wonder if RAV would supplement your salary reduction.
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:03
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Thanks! I had contract for several years, but it won't be extended after the end of the contract. What's strange is that the salary reduction will happen before the end of my contract. I'm not familiar with RAV, is't some kind of unemployment insurance?
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:10
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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Thanks! I had contract for several years, but it won't be extended after the end of the contract. What's strange is that the salary reduction will happen before the end of my contract. I'm not familiar with RAV, is't some kind of unemployment insurance?
Yes. Call them. I also think that after your contract terminates, you are entitled some coverage.
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:14
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Okay, I'll try to contact them. Thanks a lot!
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:29
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Does your contract state that a part of the funding will go to the salary, or the salary explicitly?

Also the salary is listed in which currency?

If it states a number in Euro, and you're basically getting paid in Euro (doubtful since you'd already been taking a hit) then you're stuffed. If it explicitly states a number and has no provisions for re-negotiations for extreme exchange rate fluctuations (which can be a provision in many agreements) you can tell them that you have a contract and you want it upheld to the letter.

Which is what you want in any case. So read carefully your contract and see what it says. If they tell you that they will give you a new contract see your options and try to negotiate what you can.
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:33
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Some employment contracts may specify that they are conditioned on particular funding source being available, and there may be clauses related to that. Check to see what it says in your paperwork...

Otherwise I'm not an expert but I would think that if you have a contract with a salary figure specified it can really be reduced? Unless the contract is modified/updated/renewed by the mutual agreement of the two parts?
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Old 22.09.2015, 19:44
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Thanks for comments! The salary is written in CHF in the contract and I can't see anything about changes in exchange rates written in it. But, I'll let someone more skilled in German read the contract together with me.

Thanks dandi! I'll check if there is anything written about founding sources being available for the project, but I doubt. But I agree, there must be a mutual agreement before the salary changes.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 22.09.2015 at 20:29. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:15
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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I wonder if RAV would supplement your salary reduction.
Has anyone got any info on this??? RAV is for people who lose their job, no?

OP, they could end your employment with proper notice and then re-employ you at new rate (which you could of course refuse)- this is what is happening with many people here in border areas due to loss of revenue re high Swiss Franc. Lots of job losses happening currently in the watch industry and others (Sunrise made 175 redundant today, for instance).

(I do sympathise as we have lost 35- 40% ish since we moved here on UK pensions... and there is nothing we can do about it).

Last edited by Odile; 22.09.2015 at 20:31.
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:30
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Okay, thanks! RAV might not be an option then. I guess it's best to be careful, if losing the job i a common solution on this problem. Lets hope that the Euro will get stronger again, it would help both your pension and my research. Thanks
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:33
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

RAV can force you to take a much lower paid job if you become unemployed, hence my questions above. I do not have FACTS- just asking.

Wishing you best of luck.
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:37
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Okay, I'll try to read on their web-page etc. then to see if I'm getting any wiser.
Thanks again
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:49
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Been doing so too. It seems they can compensate for work hours being cut due to adverse conditions, as an alternative to making people redundant- in specific conditions - but can't find anything for loss of earnings due to exchange rate.
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:50
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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RAV can force you to take a much lower paid job if you become unemployed, hence my questions above. I do not have FACTS- just asking.

Wishing you best of luck.
Not quite true, there are 4 circumstances that you can turn down a job, 1 being if its less than 70% of previous earnings. So turning down an offer at 75% will cause a big punishment maybe 3 month's.


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Okay, thanks! RAV might not be an option then. I guess it's best to be careful, if losing the job i a common solution on this problem. Lets hope that the Euro will get stronger again, it would help both your pension and my research. Thanks
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Old 22.09.2015, 20:59
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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Been doing so too. It seems they can compensate for work hours being cut due to adverse conditions, as an alternative to making people redundant- in specific conditions - but can't find anything for loss of earnings due to exchange rate.
I think in our area RAV takes care of postdocs who ran out of contract as grads who finished their degree, 6mo coverage. I am not 100% sure, nor about the duration, most postdocs use their postdoc position to search and go directly into anything else that shows up, fast. A nomad life.
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Old 22.09.2015, 21:14
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Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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I think in our area RAV takes care of postdocs who ran out of contract as grads who finished their degree, 6mo coverage. I am not 100% sure, nor about the duration, most postdocs use their postdoc position to search and go directly into anything else that shows up, fast. A nomad life.
Assuming they paid insurance for more than 12 months they have the same entitlement as anyone else so 260 days , more than 18 months 400 days.

Edit made a typo on 18 months, now corrected

Last edited by fatmanfilms; 22.09.2015 at 21:29.
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Old 22.09.2015, 21:16
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

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Assuming they paid insurance for more than 12 months they have the same entitlement as anyone else so 260 days , more than 38 months 400 days.
Yup, that sounds logical.
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Old 22.09.2015, 21:32
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Could this be your boss's subtle way of saying you should look for another position? A postdoc lives on a meager income; why not look for a permanent job somewhere?
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Old 22.09.2015, 21:32
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

Yes, but that has nothing to do with cut in salary, does it?
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Old 22.09.2015, 21:42
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Re: Postdoc losing money due to exchange rate

His salary is probably a big chunk of the project. If they can haggle him down, that would be a plus.
Don't know if there's a legal leg to stand on, actually - but the writing is on the wall anyway: Get moving. The faster the better.
You'll probably get a nicer letter of reference, too, if you accept the cut.
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