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Old 13.12.2011, 13:06
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Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

Hey guys,

after having settled in, I got confronted with a big issue and was wondering if there is anybody out there who is familiar with the Swiss employment law (Schweizer Arbeitsrecht)?

I am not going into details in this post as this might be a bit too much. Basically my problem is about a work contract which I refused to sign (simply because I chose another employer) and now they have sent me an invoice (3digit amount!) with the comment that I had accepted the offer letter which they had sent prior to the contract and in Switzerland this would already be binding (I mean I went there for a job interview, I paid for my journey to get there, I received the offer letter via email which only included 4 conditions (salary, start date, length of probation period, cancelation period), so surely I wanted to see the contract and then after having read the contract I told them that I am not interested in the job any longer...So how is it possible that they can send me an invoice with a super high amount, because I am telling them that I don´t like to sign the contract?).

If you can help in any way, please drop me a message...

Cheers!

Ms Desperate

P.S.: If an invoice is written on for example the 15th January, you receive it in your post box by the 25th January and on the invoice it says that you need to pay the invoice during the next 10 days.....Until when is this invoice payable? Because obviously the letter already needed 10 days to get to me. Do I need to check the date of the post stamp to calculate the day when the amount needs to be settled?
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:22
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

Email correspondence IS construed as a contract here.
Art 1 of the Swiss Code states:
The conclusion of a contract requires a mutual expression of intent by the parties. The expression of intent may be express or implied.

So, unless you clearly stated, by email or otherwise, that you do not accept the offer till you read the detailed contract, you have implied acceptance.
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:28
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

my reply would be "sue me"
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:32
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

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Email correspondence IS construed as a contract here.
Art 1 of the Swiss Code states:
The conclusion of a contract requires a mutual expression of intent by the parties. The expression of intent may be express or implied.

So, unless you clearly stated, by email or otherwise, that you do not accept the offer till you read the detailed contract, you have implied acceptance.

That is correct. However, there seems to be sth. missing: Getting a job offer, in whatever form, does not equal acceptance. So there must be some other reason why the firm thought that the OP accepted the job.

I am not a lawyer though and I seriously doubt that anybody can give a definite answer without knowing all the details- maybe a public forum is not the right place.
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:34
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

One more time, this is why as a foreigner you want to have legal insurance the moment you arrive in CH.

What is also known in CH is that a verbal contract is as good as a written one. Did you "accept" the offer in your email response to the company or did you politely say thank you for the offer and I would like to see a written employment contract before deciding? This might have a big impact on your specific situation.
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:35
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

My understanding from a number of sources in the time here and evidenced on a few occassion is that a verbal commitment is also legally binding.

You would be best to ask someone with a legal qualification however email is something that can be as binding as a written memo in many countries.

Is it possible that the organisation concerned has incurred costs such as obtaining a work permit based on your meetings prior to the offer. If this is the case then it may be a tricky one.
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:43
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

Hand in your notice, take every day before that off sick.
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Old 13.12.2011, 13:44
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

Sign it.
Send your 7 day notice in the same envelope.
Turn up on the Monday, Leave on Friday.
Do as little work for them as possible.
Ask as many questions as possible.
Make sure they give you a pension statement, a zeugnis and your annual pay statement.
Wait for your 7 day's worth of salary to arrive.
Buy beer.
Feel smug.


Edit: Adrian beat me to it and added an interesting extra :-)
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Old 13.12.2011, 14:05
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If they are asking for a contract they don't believe there is a contract in place. You can add any clause you want with regards to notice & cross out any terms you dont like. send it back , ball is in their court.
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Old 13.12.2011, 14:18
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

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If they are asking for a contract they don't believe there is a contract in place. You can add any clause you want with regards to notice & cross out any terms you dont like. send it back , ball is in their court.
don't forget to add a zero to the end of the salary amount
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Old 13.12.2011, 14:21
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

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Hey guys,

after having settled in, I got confronted with a big issue and was wondering if there is anybody out there who is familiar with the Swiss employment law (Schweizer Arbeitsrecht)?

I am not going into details in this post as this might be a bit too much. Basically my problem is about a work contract which I refused to sign (simply because I chose another employer) and now they have sent me an invoice (3digit amount!) with the comment that I had accepted the offer letter which they had sent prior to the contract and in Switzerland this would already be binding (I mean I went there for a job interview, I paid for my journey to get there, I received the offer letter via email which only included 4 conditions (salary, start date, length of probation period, cancelation period), so surely I wanted to see the contract and then after having read the contract I told them that I am not interested in the job any longer...So how is it possible that they can send me an invoice with a super high amount, because I am telling them that I don´t like to sign the contract?).

If you can help in any way, please drop me a message...

Cheers!

Ms Desperate

P.S.: If an invoice is written on for example the 15th January, you receive it in your post box by the 25th January and on the invoice it says that you need to pay the invoice during the next 10 days.....Until when is this invoice payable? Because obviously the letter already needed 10 days to get to me. Do I need to check the date of the post stamp to calculate the day when the amount needs to be settled?
Best solution would be, Join them and resign the second day...and I guess in probation, you just need to give 7 days of notice. This way you dont have to give the fine and you will get 7 days salary.
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Old 13.12.2011, 21:22
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

Hi

Above all don't pay anything. As you as you did not accept anything you are fine. Take legal advice if possible.
And welcome to Switzerland...please never trust a Swiss employer
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Old 13.12.2011, 21:40
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

The employer can fine you (cost of advertising the post) for leaving employment without serving your notice period. This amount would normally be deducted from your salary and can be up to 25% of your monthly wage.

Although verbal contracts are accepted in this country, they have absolutely no proof that you worked or had intentions of working for them. It would be a hard case for them to win (unless you have accepted the position already in writing without signing the contract)

They CANNOT fine you in this instance. If you accept a job offer and there are fine details in the contract that you dont accept, you do not have to sign it. Say for example, they tell you you would earn 100'000.- a year at your interview and on the contract its only 80'000.-, are you at fault for rejecting the contract? NO. Do you need to accept a job offer when its hidden in your contract that you need to wipe your bosses bum after his regular viit to the toilet? NO

You do not need to seek legal advice here, send them a letter back explaining that you are not happy with the cotract terms and have decided against the job
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Old 13.12.2011, 22:11
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

how do they prove a verbal contract? they got recorders eveywhere as well as the cameras?
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Old 13.12.2011, 22:53
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

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how do they prove a verbal contract? they got recorders eveywhere as well as the cameras?
If you have been working for someone then you will have received cash from them, if no written contract is made then its a verbal contract. Proving certain parts and smaller details of a verbal contract are difficult. Registered letters can be used as proof, or witnesses to certain points.

EG, an employee can be given his notice period by the employer either in writing (recorded delivery) or verbally with somebody else there as a witness.

Verbal contracts are very difficult to monitor and most of the time are almost impossible to prove, hence the reason they are almost never used. Its very hard to prove anything when its not been signed for.
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Old 14.12.2011, 04:06
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

From what I've learnt on this site, I think you've been Switzerlanded
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Old 14.12.2011, 09:53
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Re: Fined by prospective employer for not signing work contract, is that legal?

I was going to buy some land to build a house on 10 years ago, the contract was full of clauses that I found unacceptable. I crossed out the clauses & altered others.

The Notaire asked me by registered post what I wanted to do as the other side had incured 4500 CHF of costs, I replied absolutely nothing as your client wont agree to the changes.
2 days later I get a an invoice for 4500 CHF from the seller, I again wrote to the Notaire asking him to explain to his client that there was no contract, and that was the end of the matter. Obviousely had they not lied through their teeth then I would have not gone ahead in the first place.

I never heard another word!
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