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Old 15.12.2011, 16:19
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Employment/legal advice for ZH

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good employment lawyer to me.

The situation is this:
In the summer I was offered a designated position at a company for a set salary, with the position commencing in 2012. I signed an undertaking then accepting this position.

I have just received a letter stating that the company has decided to go with a different "plan" and in the process has in essence given my job away. They have offered me a different position, which I am not interested in, and at a lower salary.

Do I have any legal recourse on this situation? My wife and I have agreed a lease, have even commenced paying rent and health insurance and we are now stuck in a position where moving to Zurich might not even be viable.

Thanks for any help and advice you can give me.

S
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Old 15.12.2011, 19:19
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

Hi

I would say it's a breach of contract, but you need to think carefully before embarking in a costly legal battle. Unemployment law in Switzerland is made by and for employers and therefore you may get next to nothing.

Depending on your personal circumstances (do you currently work?) it may be better just to stay away from this company (I would love you to name and shame...pm?) and start looking for alternatives. Or if you badly need a job then take what is being offered and look for something else in parallel.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or legally qualified. This is just a personal advice - what I would personally do if I was in your situation.
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Old 15.12.2011, 19:28
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

You said you "signed an undertaking accepting". Did you ever sign a contract?
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Old 15.12.2011, 20:12
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

All my sympathies, I was in a similar situation- moved to Zurich for a job that "got changed." From your original post it seems you haven't worked in Switzerland before?
Because I had a work history in Switzerland I was able to claim unemployment, which is what made me basically keep the living arrangements at the status quo. I wish I had more insight for you, but I'm really sorry and know how it feels. All the best.
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Old 15.12.2011, 20:20
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

Worrying situation

If you had signed a contract you will probably find that there is a probation period where in the first 3 months they can give you 1 weeks notice. That is probably all you could claim meaning its not worth getting a lawyer for.

You should probably accepted the lower position while searching for another job as you will not be entitled to benefits (need to have a 1 year employment history in CH)
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Old 15.12.2011, 20:58
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

I agree. I think you have been switzerlanded.
Many employers but no all are dishonnest and take advantage of the weak position of foreigners. And please do not be fooled by the swiss salaries, once everything is taken into account living standard is not higher than in Europe, while job security and benefits (e.g. maternity leave 16 weeks, paternity leave one day!) are very low.
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Old 15.12.2011, 21:49
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

Thanks for the responses.

There is a bit more background to this that might change some of the answers:

My wife and I had been looking for work early in 2011 and were offered a position in Zurich but they wanted us earlier than we had planned. As a compromise, we took positions over the summer with a sabbatical to follow prior to coming back full time.

When we started we both signed full contracts and at the end of our "probation periods" we received a further letter confirming our positions and salaries after our sabbatical. These are signed by us and the company officers.

Now, during our sabbatical we received this news. My wife works at the same place so if this does indeed threaten my employment it also affects her, too.

Does that change the situation?
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Old 15.12.2011, 21:51
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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Hi

I would say it's a breach of contract, but you need to think carefully before embarking in a costly legal battle. Unemployment law in Switzerland is made by and for employers and therefore you may get next to nothing.

Depending on your personal circumstances (do you currently work?) it may be better just to stay away from this company (I would love you to name and shame...pm?) and start looking for alternatives. Or if you badly need a job then take what is being offered and look for something else in parallel.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or legally qualified. This is just a personal advice - what I would personally do if I was in your situation.
Thanks - not going to name anyone yet as I strongly believe there is something I can do about this and don't want to jeopardise the situation by name-dropping.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:10
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

What is the notice period of the contract? Did you negociate more than 1 week during the trial period or is there no trial pwriod?
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:18
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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What is the notice period of the contract? Did you negociate more than 1 week during the trial period or is there no trial pwriod?
The trial period was 4 months, commencing last April. We had sufficiently passed that when we were offered new positions.

Our notice period is two months. They've given me 2 weeks notice of this "change" to my contract.

The thing for me is that based on this agreement to return, my wife and I extended the lease on our property. We'd struggled to get somewhere suitable when we first arrived and decided that as we had guaranteed positions to come back to, it would be better to continue with our property whilst we were away. In good faith, we've planned to come back to Zurich longer term and settle here, paying rent whilst we're not there, paying health insurance whilst we're not there, to then be told they've given my position away to someone else and have offered me something which I'm not trained or qualified to do, nor do I want to do it. I think they are deliberately trying to force me out and want me to quit so they get "away" for nothing.

Surely there must be some legal recourse; I can't believe Swiss law would allow an employee to get shafted so easily.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:25
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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Surely there must be some legal recourse; I can't believe Swiss law would allow an employee to get shafted so easily.
So the two weeks give them time to serve you a termination notice before Dec 31st, triggering the two months (until Feb 28th 2012). So yes, Swiss law is pretty employer-friendly in that regard.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:28
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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So the two weeks give them time to serve you a termination notice before Dec 31st, triggering the two months (until Feb 28th 2012). So yes, Swiss law is pretty employer-friendly in that regard.

So if I tell them the "offer" is not acceptable and I would only be willing to return on the terms previously offered, they could just give me two months notice on my agreed pay (not the lower one) and then I'd be done?

No-one thinks there is any chance of recovering the considerable costs I've incurred in good faith to accept a job which no longer exists?

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Old 15.12.2011, 22:35
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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So if I tell them the "offer" is not acceptable and I would only be willing to return on the terms previously offered, they could just give me two months notice on my agreed pay (not the lower one) and then I'd be done?

No-one thinks there is any chance of recovering the considerable costs I've incurred in good faith to accept a job which no longer exists?

Probably not. Your employer may also have had considerable costs in hiring or training you and then you give notice to him. Swiss law is a little biased towards the emplyoer but employment terms are reciprocal for employee/employer, you have to give 3 months, they have to give 3 months.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:38
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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Probably not. Your employer may also have had considerable costs in hiring or training you and then you give notice to him. Swiss law is a little biased towards the emplyoer but employment terms are reciprocal for employee/employer, you have to give 3 months, they have to give 3 months.

If only. We contacted them, were not through an agent, paid our own travel and moving costs to Zurich, training was non-existent. In fact, my wife and I came into the firm on under-valued contracts as we hadn't worked for a while and it turned out that we were the two most qualified people in the entire company! It has cost us a lot more than it has cost them!
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:41
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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So if I tell them the "offer" is not acceptable and I would only be willing to return on the terms previously offered, they could just give me two months notice on my agreed pay (not the lower one) and then I'd be done?

No-one thinks there is any chance of recovering the considerable costs I've incurred in good faith to accept a job which no longer exists?

It's a sad story but you should focus on looking for another job I believe. Not easy given that you will have to justify your time without work. But frankly I don't think a judge would give you anything.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:45
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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If only. We contacted them, were not through an agent, paid our own travel and moving costs to Zurich, training was non-existent. In fact, my wife and I came into the firm on under-valued contracts as we hadn't worked for a while and it turned out that we were the two most qualified people in the entire company! It has cost us a lot more than it has cost them!
If this is such a bad employer why do you want to stick with it?

Ok like most of us you need money to pay your bills, but with 3 % unemployment rate it should be easy - especially for foreigners accepting low paid work with a crap contract - to find work (another crap contract).

We made the mistake to sign bilateral "agreements" with Europe without any safeguards and YOU are paying for it.
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Old 15.12.2011, 22:49
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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If this is such a bad employer why do you want to stick with it?

Ok like most of us you need money to pay your bills, but with 3 % unemployment rate it should be easy - especially for foreigners accepting low paid work with a crap contract - to find work (another crap contract).

We made the mistake to sign bilateral "agreements" with Europe without any safeguards and YOU are paying for it.

Honestly, we have thought about looking around but in the end we thought that the roles we were accepting and the people we were working with, in general, were worth perservering with. However, there a couple of people there who appear to want to force us out.

It appears that they gave my job away over a month ago - why wait until a week before Christmas, giving me hardly any time to find anything else, when they could have told me ages ago?
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Old 15.12.2011, 23:03
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

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Honestly, we have thought about looking around but in the end we thought that the roles we were accepting and the people we were working with, in general, were worth perservering with. However, there a couple of people there who appear to want to force us out.

It appears that they gave my job away over a month ago - why wait until a week before Christmas, giving me hardly any time to find anything else, when they could have told me ages ago?
About the couple of people...maybe they themselves feel insecure and see you as a threat for their own positions...just a thought.

The weeks before Christmas are very popular to announce bad news, nothing new. Most likely they did not even think about it and think you will accept any available work, like most people would.
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Old 15.12.2011, 23:23
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

Thanks for the responses. Looks like I'm screwed - best I can hope for is two months on my "full" pay and hope they allow me to serve it on gardening leave!
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Old 15.12.2011, 23:32
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Re: Employment/legal advice for ZH

If you wanted to clarify you could go to the Labour Court (Arbeitsgericht) which is a free and very helpful service. Is in German only so take a friend if you dont speak German.

http://www.gerichte-zh.ch/organisati...tsgericht.html

Legal advice of the Labour Court
Hours:Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 08.30 bis 11.00 and 13.30 bis 16.00 clock
(No appointment necessary but it is expected there will be long waiting times)
Location:Zurich District Court, Labour Court, Wengistrasse 30, Ground Floor
(Telephone information on 044 248 28 45)
For whom? Maximum 12 people per half day.
In German only, please be accompanied by a German speaking person.
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