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Old 12.10.2017, 14:43
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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OP: were you already in Switzerland when you were offered this job, or did you fly over for the interview?

From what you write, the employer seems like a prize idiot. He has already spent some weeks interviewing, penning a contract, arranging a permit, paying your transfer costs. Now after 3 weeks, he wants to go through the whole process again because he is not willing to teach an educated, qualified and intelligent person the job.

It doesn’t add up...
It only would cost him some hours, he can fire somebody easily if not good enough in his eyes, and would get the 20K investment back. Combine that with somebody who would be willing to sign such contract and wrong expectations from both sides.

Does not sound so weird to me.
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Old 12.10.2017, 14:43
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

Yeah this sucks big time - I'm sorry this happened.

A few things:
1) you won't get financial help from RAV. You need to have worked at least 12 months out of the previous 24 months in Switzerland or, under certain circumstances, EU countries to be eligible. This isn't the case, so you're not entitled to any financial help. You may be able to get support in finding a new job, but chances are you're more successful tapping into your business school network. RAV here is equipped to at best help with run-of-the-mill jobs, but it sounds like you may be more specialized and are probably more senior.
2) Your B permit is tied to your employer, so theoretically, you will lose your permit when you lose your job. However, normally, B permits are issued for one year and normally, even in the case of loss of job, you can stay until the permit expires, after which it won't be extended. Please do double-check on this one with the authorities
3) It is unusual to ask back for relocation cost if the employer terminates the employment, though it is perfectly normal to ask for it if the employee decides to resign. However, you signed a contract that stated both options to the benefit of the employer, so I'm afraid, you are unlikely to get out of this.
4) Contrary to the US, it is next to impossible to sue any employer for anything here. Your now-former employer did everything correctly - he's allowed to terminate your contract any time with no reason given and he's allowed to ask for the relocation money back simply because you agreed to that in writing.
5) I'll do some digging on the hiring criteria for non-EUs that already have a valid permit. I think you may not have to go through the whole process, but do not hold me to that, it may not be the correct information.

I do admit I find the "reasoning" of the employer irritating. Not that he needs to give any reason, see 4) above, but what company doesn't allow some time for a new employee to get up to speed? Expecting anyone - and I do mean anyone - to be able to immediately perform perfectly is ridiculous.

I have to say from both perspectives, this seems to have been a rather naive approach. Signing a contract with questionable or at least unusual clauses after a 1hr informal meeting - you seem to be learning a lesson here the very, very hard way. I feel for you, honestly, but please be more careful and thorough next time.

It is difficult to give a recommendation beyond the above points. If you want to stay in Switzerland, I guess all you can do is go on an intense job hunt, but be aware that this country does not have a dynamic labor market and it may well take quite some time to find another opportunity. As hinted above and proposed by someone else, if you were indeed in a top 10 school, tap into that network immediately.
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  #23  
Old 12.10.2017, 14:54
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

Firstly you need to understand that your B permit may not be valid since you've lost your job. It's tied to your employer so no job, no permit, no right to stay here. Samaire13 is more up on employment than me so she may be right about the permit, check that with the cantonal migration office, since that will govern any other decisions you need to make.

That said, if you can afford to do so, you can be here as a tourist for up to 90 days and could look for another job during that time. But any new employer may have to go through the same non-EU hiring criteria and that could take more time than you have left as a tourist - which would mean you'd have to return to the US and wait there for the decision. It would also mean you'd need to apply for a new Type D visa at the embassy/consulate if the permit application is successful. Again see what Samaire13 can come up with on the permit side re non-EU hiring critiera.

You also need to check if there's a cancellation clause in your rental contract since you've only just signed it. Otherwise, you will have to pay rent and give notice as per the contract (usually 3 months' minimum, but each contract is different) to get out of paying rent for the months you don't use it.

You also have the problem that Swiss banks here will not allow you to open a bank account unless you're a resident, i.e. have a permit. So this could be a problem if you want to stay here and look for work. The problem comes from you (I assume from your username) being an American. Due to the US's FATCA law all foreign bank accounts have to be reported to the IRS so many banks won't accept American clients at all and others only with a valid residence permit and you signing a W-9 form.
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Old 12.10.2017, 15:04
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Unfortunately it says I owe the money back if I am terminated by the company within first year of employment. What could they legally do if I don't have the money anymore?
You negotiated a good salary, but don't understand that your 20K debt is something you can use as leverage?

Your ex-boss wants the 20K back. He risks you skipping the country and not getting a penny. Start negotiating. He doesn't know that you want to stay and make a go of it.
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Old 12.10.2017, 15:17
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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1) you won't get financial help from RAV. You need to have worked at least 12 months out of the previous 24 months in Switzerland or, under certain circumstances, EU countries to be eligible.
Or be a Swiss citizen who has been out of the country for at least 12 months, and worked somewhere for at least 12 of the last 24 months.

Tom
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  #26  
Old 12.10.2017, 15:18
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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In this case, the process was very informal, I was given a verbal offer after a 1hr meeting with the owner where no tests or technical questions were asked.


The other people in the office are more experienced than me (+6 years) but according to the owner, because I negotiated my salary to be higher than his initial offer (to match the other people in the office), he assumed I can do the same or better as them.


From my viewpoint, I was given a lower title than everyone else and saw salary negotiation of 10-20% as a rational practice that didn't imply I can do more than what is on my resume.



Considering the investment you and he were making, did this not seem a little fishy to you? If its a good job but the interview process is as easy as you imply, then something requires further investigation.


In any case, it is likely that yes, he assumed your salary negotiation implied you had the skill level to earn what you negotiated. It seems like there was a lack of clarity on both sides about what the job would actually entail, and that will come back to bite you both. unfortunately, you have been bitten far harder.


Ive come across such schysters before, and as has been pointed out, its probably not worth it to seek legal recourse. You could negotiate with the guy, but lets face it, he probably realises his 20k$ is sunk and he wont see it again, and he's fine with it. If youre not in a position to pay any of it back now, then i would suggest you dont volunteer to pay it back over the long term and only do so if he insists. Keep in mind, moving out of switzerland is often more expensive then moving to switzerland.


You dont qualify for RAV (the 'good' unemployment money) and nor do you qualify for Sozialhilfe (the less good unemployment money).


I would advise that you get in touch with friends or family and ask if they can transfer some money to you. I hope you still have your US bank account? it will mean you lose out on the exchange rate, but at least you wont be stranded and broke.


In the meantime, send letters to any/all contracts you have signed and claim force majeure. It might get you out of some commitments.


Regarding housing...im not sure what you can turn to, but i expect the canton will have the responsibility of finding something for you. Warning, it wont be pretty. but it should be warm and dry.


Good luck. In 40 years, when you're a billionaire, youll look back on this and feel a tremendous swell of pride that you pulled yourself up from such dire straits.
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Old 12.10.2017, 15:39
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Good luck. In 40 years, when you're a billionaire, youll look back on this and feel a tremendous swell of pride that you pulled yourself up from such dire straits.
Remember who tried to help you and reward them
Best investment I ever made, helped a future billionaire

40 years is long but probably someone's success is better than 2nd pillar retirement returns.
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Old 12.10.2017, 15:59
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

If you haven't noticed already, Switzerland is not the cheapest place to live, add in that you don't have a job and probably no financial help. And you struggle to pay back the 20k or have debts. Unless you have solid job leads, it often will take months if not a year or more to land a new job, plus the non-EU hiring process. Thus you need a fair amount of cash to support yourself for many months of jobsearching plus debt repayment. It seems that you don't have this financial reserve. As such it might make more sense to cut your losses now (and learn a costly lesson) rather than stay and increase them.
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:20
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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You negotiated a good salary, but don't understand that your 20K debt is something you can use as leverage?

Your ex-boss wants the 20K back. He risks you skipping the country and not getting a penny. Start negotiating. He doesn't know that you want to stay and make a go of it.
Is a Swiss debt not to be paid in the US? What would prohibit the employer selling the debt to an american agency in for example 2 years, or pursue OP in America.

(Serious question, I have no clue on treaty's with America)

Negotiating might seem nice, but works best if both party's have something to offer.
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:24
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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It only would cost him some hours, he can fire somebody easily if not good enough in his eyes, and would get the 20K investment back. Combine that with somebody who would be willing to sign such contract and wrong expectations from both sides.

Does not sound so weird to me.
So small Swiss companies hire people from the States, offer them a job after a 1-hour interview, handwrite a contract, pay them CHF20,000 to relocate, then fire them after 3 weeks.

I didn't realise this was normal.

As usual, there's a lot going on here we don't know about...
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:27
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

the person he originally wanted to hire finally got back to him and accepted the job, which is a bummer for his 2nd choice.

is my bet
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:29
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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You negotiated a good salary, but don't understand that your 20K debt is something you can use as leverage?

Your ex-boss wants the 20K back. He risks you skipping the country and not getting a penny. Start negotiating. He doesn't know that you want to stay and make a go of it.
I wouldn't normally advocate this approach, but given the circumstances and the fact that you'll be half-a-world-away, I would be inclined to not pay a penny of the $20k back. There will come a point where it's no longer economical for him to try to get the money back from someone who's left the country.

If you intend to stay in Switzerland, though, you'll need to come to some arrangement on the money. This debt will hang over your head in a Swiss context.
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:48
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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So small Swiss companies hire people from the States, offer them a job after a 1-hour interview, handwrite a contract, pay them CHF20,000 to relocate, then fire them after 3 weeks.

I didn't realise this was normal.

As usual, there's a lot going on here we don't know about...
You make it sound like the story cannot be true.

My wife got a contract only after a skype interview, her employer paid some for the relocation, found her an apartment which they paid for during the first two months and helped her fix her papers.

Only difference is that she did not get fired.

And the employer getting back 20K would only encourage him to sack OP when not satisfied with his skills, and such did happen.

People willing to sign a contract accepting stupid terms is an everyday happening, small companies not doing things as we are used to on average is also an everyday thing.
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Old 12.10.2017, 16:49
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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I wouldn't normally advocate this approach, but given the circumstances and the fact that you'll be half-a-world-away, I would be inclined to not pay a penny of the $20k back. There will come a point where it's no longer economical for him to try to get the money back from someone who's left the country.

If you intend to stay in Switzerland, though, you'll need to come to some arrangement on the money. This debt will hang over your head in a Swiss context.
Same question to you, what prohibits the employer from selling the debt to an American debt collecting agency? Does America not respect Swiss debts and are they non-retrievable in America?
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  #35  
Old 12.10.2017, 17:12
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Unfortunately it says I owe the money back if I am terminated by the company within first year of employment. What could they legally do if I don't have the money anymore?
OP, if you don't pay this back then you have to take into account that your chances of finding new employment in Switzerland may be severely hindered if the new potential employer makes a background check (including open debt). If the position is remotely to do with handling finance, then this is highly probable.

From what you say so far, it appears that your ex-employer is not open for discussion (for whatever reason). Unless you are able to come to an agreement concerning repaying the relocation costs, they can open a debt recollection ("Betreibungs") process as quickly as they wish, which would appear negatively on your financial history.

This in turn could impact any job prospects if a future employer asks for a statement of open debts - "Betreibungsauszug" - before signing the contract. Many financial institutions see having financial problems as an operational risk, apparently due to the risk of being blackmailed etc.

In answer to your previous question re. "Sozialhilfe" (which has been answered) - this is "welfare" in US speak, so doubt that you want or need to go there.

Difficult situation, and I don't really yet understand how it could happen as my understanding was that a job could only be offered to non-Swiss if the relevant candidates are not available in Switzerland (and this process is quite stringent). Your qualifications are quite common in CH (the Unis also usually qualify amongst the top 10).

Wish you all the best in making your decision.

Edit: Am very open for correction, as not in this area

Last edited by ZuriRollt; 12.10.2017 at 17:23.
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Old 12.10.2017, 17:29
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Difficult situation, and I don't really yet understand how it could happen as my understanding was that a job could only be offered to non-Swiss if the relevant candidates are not available in Switzerland (and this process is quite stringent). Your qualifications are quite common in CH (the Unis also usually qualify amongst the top 10).
Yes I was a little confused by that as well. A handwritten contract - well that alone should raise some red flags with the authorities and they are indeed VERY critical on non-EU hiring.

Also confused he got a B permit right away btw, as most non-EUs and even EUs get an L first these days.

But anyway....
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Old 12.10.2017, 17:42
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Hi everyone, long-time lurker, first time post out of necessity. I would appreciate your advice as I'm feeling really overwhelmed and need help.

I moved to Switzerland several weeks ago from the US to work for a small family office financial firm in Pfäffikon SZ. They got me a B permit which I just took the fingerprints for earlier this week and was told that I'd get the physical permit at the local Gemeindehaus in 2 weeks.

3 weeks into my employment contract the business owner decided to terminate me and gave me 7 days notice, claiming he wasn't interested in teaching anyone how to do any aspects of the job and that he doesn't see me as being worth the salary.

This feels unfair and that I wasn't given a chance to learn their expectations and come up to speed, but it's his right as the owner to do as he pleases and to hire people who don't ask any questions. It's my fault for not thoroughly understanding the things I would be doing day to day and assuming I would be given time to come up to speed and learn from the other team members (3 people total in the company other than myself). It's unfortunate because I had just shipped my belongings to CH, signed a lease for an apartment 5 mins walking to work, and spent money furnishing it. To add, my employer demanded the $20k he gave me to cover moving expenses back within 30 days.

What do I do now? It's a vague question, I understand, but I'm a bit overwhelmed and still processing what happened. I want to get ahead of this situation and understand the resources I have to help me (and hope that you all can be one of those resources). At the moment, I'm struggling to even get through the day.

1. I am not sure whether my permit is tied to my employer, but how much time would I have before I have to leave the country?
2. Would I be eligible for unemployment benefits despite only being in the country for 3 weeks? What would I have to do?
3. In applying for jobs, if they are in other cantons - would they have to go through the entire approval process for a permit again or can my current one be transferred?

Thank you
Can I just ask why, if you are so highly qualified, that you accepted a job with a small family business instead of going for a large and reputable company? Small family businesses are often the absolute worst and most unprofessional environments, not to mention the most unstable, you can be in. Moving from the USA to join that kind of "freestyle" environment seems like a huge risk unless you were desperate.
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Old 12.10.2017, 17:47
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Also confused he got a B permit right away btw, as most non-EUs and even EUs get an L first these days.
He mentioned they applied for one. Genuine question: do the authorities tell the employer beforehand what type of permit a non EU will receive or could there be other surprises when picking up the permit?
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Old 12.10.2017, 17:50
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Can I just ask why, if you are so highly qualified, that you accepted a job with a small family business instead of going for a large and reputable company? Small family businesses are often the absolute worst and most unprofessional environments, not to mention the most unstable, you can be in. Moving from the USA to join that kind of "freestyle" environment seems like a huge risk unless you were desperate.
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Old 12.10.2017, 17:55
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

Thank you everyone for your replies and thoughtful suggestions.

When I mentioned "handwritten" perhaps that was a poor choice of words - I meant it was written by the employer and was not a standard big company type contract. He had non-standard terms and at the time I was naive and never thought I'd be in this situation.

I did fly over here to interview, actually with another company, and this offer was for more money and higher upside potential. But you're right in that I should have been more suspicious of goods so easily given. I plan to write to the employer I turned down and hope that they might be open for a discussion.

Also reaching out to the alums in the area (ironically enough, this guy is also one). Had an interview today with his father whom my employer put me in touch with in a completely unrelated field, but may have an interest in hiring me. The employer is also open to a proposal on my part for a severely reduced rate and suggested different responsibilities that would make me more useful to him where he would not spend time teaching me. I have no problem swallowing my pride on this if it means less financial distress in the short term.

I have to agree that at a high level, the time investment in interviewing, reference checking, getting approval for a specialist non-EU hire would outweigh the time investment in helping me get up to speed, but in his eyes his time is more valuable and he's not interested in mentorship. He said he'd be happy to have me in a few years but that I'd need to find another place to teach me the things he doesn't want to and pay for that time. While I can understand the lack of resources at a small company, it's still frustrating and painful to be on the receiving end of this.

I have enough funds to last me 3-4 months, and already have the bank account set up so I am not in immediate distress. I also plan to offer to work at a very reduced rate while I investigate other leads - this should help pay bills and maintain me as an employee, if he accepts. Along the same lines I'll try to negotiate the payback of the relocation expenses.
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