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Old 10.01.2008, 11:41
lynnecon
 
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Unfair dismissal

On Tuesday, out of the blue, I was given the sack. The reason given was that my head of department did not feel we had the 'right chemistry' - she and her boss were at pains to make clear that they had no complaints about my work. I had been at the company for nearly five months and moved to Luzern from London specifically for the job. They have offered to pay me to the end of March and give me CH2,000 towards my moving expenses from London (which were nearly £5000). I understand that I cannot claim unemployment benefit as I have been here less than a year and I feel very stupid that I had nothing in my contract to protect me in the event of something like this happening.

My questions are:

1. Do Swiss companies not have to follow a dismissal procedure (verbal and written warnings, etc) before firing somebody? Or is that only where there are actually valid reasons.

2. Do I have grounds for abusive dismissal?

3. Does anybody know of a good employment lawyer in Luzern?

Needless to say, I am very angry. I don't think I will find it easy to find a similar job - it was quite specific. My German is not good (the job didn't demand it) and although I'm having lessons, it will be a while before it's up to scratch.

Any advice gratefully received.
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Old 10.01.2008, 11:52
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Re: Unfair dismissal

From my understanding they did what they were supposed to do. There was nothing in your contract, they are paying you for three months and they are giving you money to move, which I do not believe is a requirement.

However, that just really sucks. You move here for a job and then get let go after 5 months with no real complaints. You have my sympathy.

Oh, also if you want to stay in Switzerland, make sure you get a very good letter of recommendation from them (can't think of the word in German) and spend the next three months getting paid to look for work. But, it doesn't sound like it was abusive dismissal.
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Old 10.01.2008, 11:58
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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From my understanding they did what they were supposed to do. There was nothing in your contract, they are paying you for three months and they are giving you money to move, which I do not believe is a requirement.

However, that just really sucks. You move here for a job and then get let go after 5 months with no real complaints. You have my sympathy.

Oh, also if you want to stay in Switzerland, make sure you get a very good letter of recommendation from them (can't think of the word in German) and spend the next three months getting paid to look for work.
Chem, the word you are looking for is "saugnes" whic is reference.

In the OP's case, I can only commiserate, this happens often, however, they are offering a positive (for them) deal.

Less than one year contributions in taxes & AHV will mean that she cannot qualify for unemployment benefits. Unless something has changed radically in the last 10 months.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:00
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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On Tuesday, out of the blue, I was given the sack. The reason given was that my head of department did not feel we had the 'right chemistry' - she and her boss were at pains to make clear that they had no complaints about my work. I had been at the company for nearly five months and moved to Luzern from London specifically for the job. They have offered to pay me to the end of March and give me CH2,000 towards my moving expenses from London (which were nearly £5000). I understand that I cannot claim unemployment benefit as I have been here less than a year and I feel very stupid that I had nothing in my contract to protect me in the event of something like this happening.

My questions are:

1. Do Swiss companies not have to follow a dismissal procedure (verbal and written warnings, etc) before firing somebody? Or is that only where there are actually valid reasons.

2. Do I have grounds for abusive dismissal?

3. Does anybody know of a good employment lawyer in Luzern?

Needless to say, I am very angry. I don't think I will find it easy to find a similar job - it was quite specific. My German is not good (the job didn't demand it) and although I'm having lessons, it will be a while before it's up to scratch.

Any advice gratefully received.
As our forum godess has said the company has acted within its rights.

1. Yes they need to follow a dismissal procedure and this is to give you notice as described in the contract and then to pay you for the duration of that notice. They also must allow you time to actually look for work, although in this case I guess they will let you stay at home. This is very similar if not identical to the UK.

2. None whatsoever.
3. No not in Luzern, but what do you want to achieve? The company has acted entirely within the law and within its rights.

What I would suggest is doing as Chemgodess has suggested and actually spend the time looking for alternative employment. This might mean looking towards Zürich but I would not worry about finding something suitable and furthermore not worry about lack of English. But I would start doing it now...
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:01
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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Chem, the word you are looking for is "saugnes" whic is reference.

In the OP's case, I can only commiserate, this happens often, however, they are offering a positive (for them) deal.

Less than one year contributions in taxes & AHV will mean that she cannot qualify for unemployment benefits. Unless something has changed radically in the last 10 months.
Zeugnis in German is reference and also nothing has changed in the last 10 months... Still minimum 12 months in the last 2 years to qualify for unemployment benefit.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:02
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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Chem, the word you are looking for is "saugnes" which is reference.
Zeugnis, das Zeugnis.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:05
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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Chem, the word you are looking for is "saugnes" whic is reference.

In the OP's case, I can only commiserate, this happens often, however, they are offering a positive (for them) deal.

Less than one year contributions in taxes & AHV will mean that she cannot qualify for unemployment benefits. Unless something has changed radically in the last 10 months.

Hmm never heard of that word also cannot find it anywhere.. I would say its a letter of recommendation or Empfehlungsschreiben, though it seems odd to get one from a company that let you go because the chemistry wasn't right. Even if they write that workwise you did very well but the chemistry did not work for them, that would not be a letter of recommendation I would use in search of a new job. How you fit into the team is oftentimes more important than your competence.

Sorry about the situation you are in.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:05
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Re: Unfair dismissal

Oh yes Arbeitszeugnis
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:06
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Re: Unfair dismissal

It's kinda weird here, unless you have a good letter from said company the odds of finding a job with a Swiss company can be difficult.

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Hmm never heard of that word also cannot find it anywhere.. I would say its a letter of recommendation or Empfehlungsschreiben, though it seems odd to get one from a company that let you go because the chemistry wasn't right. Even if they write that workwise you did very well but the chemistry did not work for them, that would not be a letter of recommendation I would use in search of a new job. How you fit into the team is oftentimes more important than your competence.

Sorry about the situation you are in.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:09
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Re: Unfair dismissal

apologies for my crap spelling of Zeugnis & any confusion it may have caused. My German spoken is way ahead of written.

On the matter of Zeugnis, it seems to becoming more prevalent that in cases where employees are let go for little reason, the company often tells the candidate to write their own. Has happened on two different occasions with friends of mine.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:15
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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Even if they write that workwise you did very well but the chemistry did not work for them, that would not be a letter of recommendation I would use in search of a new job. How you fit into the team is oftentimes more important than your competence.
AFAIK employers are not allowed to write bad things about you in the recommendation, not even that "the chemistry didn't work" for them. They can, however, leave things out that are clues for next HR departments. If you can't / don't want a recommendation, at least go for a confirmation (Arbeitsbestätigun) stating the duration, job description etc.

Good luck!
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:21
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Re: Unfair dismissal

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AFAIK employers are not allowed to write bad things about you in the recommendation, not even that "the chemistry didn't work" for them. They can, however, leave things out that are clues for next HR departments. If you can't / don't want a recommendation, at least go for a confirmation (Arbeitsbestätigun) stating the duration, job description etc.

Good luck!
With respect to "letters of recommendation" they must be produced on or before the last working day and must represent the work you have done accurately.

As to not allowed to write bad things, well, that is not the case. They may, as long as this is something that needs to be said and that they can back it up. Usually this will come in the reason for dismissal as in we let the employee go because he commited a crime or for breach of contract. It might happen at other points within the reference but this is rather unusual and much more difficult to substantiate.
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Old 10.01.2008, 12:31
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Re: Unfair dismissal

Now is probably a good time to plug one of Richard's best selling Q & A threads on Letters of Reference / Arbeitszeugnis and direct relevant posts there.

Last edited by litespeed; 10.01.2008 at 12:54.
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Old 10.01.2008, 15:17
lynnecon
 
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Re: Unfair dismissal

Thank you for all your replies, discouraging

I should have said that this particular person has form - she has done this before apparently, which is why I wondered whether I had a case for abusive dismissal. I had no problems with anyone else in the company, and she has difficulty working in a collaborative way with anyone.

However the reason I'm so shocked is that this sort of sacking would be illegal - at least in my profession - in almost any other country (except perhaps the US); ie, a dismissal procedure would have to be followed.
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Old 10.01.2008, 15:22
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Re: Unfair dismissal

So it's illegal to fire someone if they aren't working out?

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Thank you for all your replies, discouraging

I should have said that this particular person has form - she has done this before apparently, which is why I wondered whether I had a case for abusive dismissal. I had no problems with anyone else in the company, and she has difficulty working in a collaborative way with anyone.

However the reason I'm so shocked is that this sort of sacking would be illegal - at least in my profession - in almost any other country (except perhaps the US); ie, a dismissal procedure would have to be followed.
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Old 10.01.2008, 15:31
lynnecon
 
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Re: Unfair dismissal

In this manner, yes. Companies have to have proper dismissal procedures and they are expected to follow them or find themselves in court.
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Old 10.01.2008, 15:34
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Re: Unfair dismissal

Actually, what I've found on the internet doesn't necessarily agree with that.

link

What happened to you here doesn't sound like anything different than what could have happened to you in the UK.

"Under common or contractual law an employer can dismiss an employee at any time, although a period of notice must normally be given (save in cases of gross misconduct) or a payment in lieu of notice is made. However, employees with sufficient continuity of service*, have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In such cases a dismissal will only be lawful if it is for a fair reason and the employer has acted reasonably in all the circumstances which usually involves following certain statutorily laid down procedures. The following examines the levels of notice which must be given and the reasons for dismissal which are legally considered to be fair."

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In this manner, yes. Companies have to have proper dismissal procedures and they are expected to follow them or find themselves in court.
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Old 10.01.2008, 15:36
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Re: Unfair dismissal

In the gym ? I best get back to pumping-iron then, lest I become an unemployment statistic...

dave

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So it's illegal to fire someone if they aren't working out?
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Old 10.01.2008, 16:12
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Re: Unfair dismissal

As you point out, procedures have to be followed.


"In such cases a dismissal will only be lawful if it is for a fair reason and the employer has acted reasonably in all the circumstances which usually involves following certain statutorily laid down procedures."
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Old 10.01.2008, 16:31
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Re: Unfair dismissal

OK, in the UK, if you've been employed for less than a year you can be sacked at any time as long as the terms of your contract are followed (unless the real reason for being sacked is because of your race, gender, disability etc) i.e. effectively as happened to the OP. You must however be given a written reason for your dismissal.

After 12 months your employment rights kick in and you can claim unfair dismissal. 'Your work is great but our chemistry isn't' would probably be unfair dismissal.

Sorry you've had this experience lynnecon. Best you can do is draw a line and move on somewhere you'll be valued .

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Actually, what I've found on the internet doesn't necessarily agree with that.

link

What happened to you here doesn't sound like anything different than what could have happened to you in the UK.

"Under common or contractual law an employer can dismiss an employee at any time, although a period of notice must normally be given (save in cases of gross misconduct) or a payment in lieu of notice is made. However, employees with sufficient continuity of service*, have the right not to be unfairly dismissed. In such cases a dismissal will only be lawful if it is for a fair reason and the employer has acted reasonably in all the circumstances which usually involves following certain statutorily laid down procedures. The following examines the levels of notice which must be given and the reasons for dismissal which are legally considered to be fair."
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