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Old 12.10.2017, 11:55
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Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:07
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

"my employer demanded the $20k he gave me to cover moving expenses back within 30 days. "

First point. What does your contract say concerning removal expenses?
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:11
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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"my employer demanded the $20k he gave me to cover moving expenses back within 30 days. "

First point. What does your contract say concerning removal expenses?
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?
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:18
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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?
Were you terminated for cause?

This is what contracts typically say:

"If you voluntarily terminate your employment with XXXX or you are terminated for cause within the first year after the date of relocation, you will be obligated to reimburse the company for any relocation expenses incurred on your behalf. Furthermore, all reimbursements and payments under this plan, including any expenses submitted but not yet reimbursed, pending gross-ups, or any other assistance cease as of the date of termination."

If your contract is silent on cause then I am afraid you took a risk and it didn't pay-off
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:25
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Were you terminated for cause?

This is what contracts typically say:

"If you voluntarily terminate your employment with XXXX or you are terminated for cause within the first year after the date of relocation, you will be obligated to reimburse the company for any relocation expenses incurred on your behalf. Furthermore, all reimbursements and payments under this plan, including any expenses submitted but not yet reimbursed, pending gross-ups, or any other assistance cease as of the date of termination."

If your contract is silent on cause then I am afraid you took a risk and it didn't pay-off
Yeah, that's what I've seen contracts say in my other places of work. This one was more "handwritten" and not a standard contract, so I think they have me there. As far as I understand, and based on what's mentioned in the official termination letter, it's termination as part of probation period. Doesn't mention anything about "for cause".
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:33
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Yeah, that's what I've seen contracts say in my other places of work. This one was more "handwritten" and not a standard contract, so I think they have me there. As far as I understand, and based on what's mentioned in the official termination letter, it's termination as part of probation period. Doesn't mention anything about "for cause".
You moved halfway around the world on the basis of a non-standard handwritten contract? You don't expect this to happen when you take up a position but it just goes to show that you can't be too careful with contracts.

Sorry, apart from wishing you good luck, I have got nothing meaningful to add. Hope things work out for you one way or the other.
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:49
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

You've just learnt a VERY expensive lesson I'm afraid.

Regarding your B permit, as a Non-EU, it's tied to the employer if I'm not mistaken. As you probably noticed, companies will prefer to hire CH, then EU, over anyone else.

Unless you've skills the market particularly having a high demand for, you're in a rather tight situation. From what I can see, your B permit will be valid for the time being, but without RAV, you could only apply for "Sozialhilfe" if you indeed have zero savings.
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:54
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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You've just learnt a VERY expensive lesson I'm afraid.

Regarding your B permit, as a Non-EU, it's tied to the employer if I'm not mistaken. As you probably noticed, companies will prefer to hire CH, then EU, over anyone else.

Unless you've skills the market particularly having a high demand for, you're in a rather tight situation. From what I can see, your B permit will be valid for the time being, but without RAV, you could only apply for "Sozialhilfe" if you indeed have zero savings.
Indeed, learned a valuable lesson here. Now need to move on and build on top of it.

I have a strong skillset (MS, MBA from top 10 school, etc) so I think I have a reasonable shot of finding a job.

Is RAV not an option since I've only been here a short while? What will Sozialhilfe provide and how do I apply for it?
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:55
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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?
I think the first thing is to decide if you are staying in Switzerland or not.

Your approach may vary based on that, as may the amount of Swiss legal risk you are willing/able to take.

On the 20k - I'd suggest making an offer to pay it back over a longer period, and maybe offer to pay less (even if just as a negotiating position) based on some sort of fairness / costs argument.

If they decided to go full-on debt collection, they wouldn't see any money for months, and they would have to pay the costs.
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:56
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

One of the worst situation I ever read in EF.

Now, not that it would change much to the "moving on" part, there's something more to the story. Possibly some "highly inflated CV", no?
How come suddenly there is a realization you can't do the job, you passed interviews, there were requirements for the position, no?

Having said that, it reminds the difficult position one is when taking a new job especially that this "introductory period" can leave one stranded in a similar ways. Which is another reason why it's not easy to be an expat, and one takes risks, and something should be done for better integration, or even protection.

I think, unless something were badly done in contracts, that it's a situation which can happen, and possibly nothing can be done from a legal point of view.

Now, due to the sums involved, I'd suggest to attempt negotiation/remediation with that boss, even if, in practice, it's very unlikely to go anywhere positive. Simply because someone decent would simply not terminate someone this way, with all the implications, if there was not something "negative" which was done.

Probably it's a loss/crisis, which has to be taken as a hard experience thing, and which will be recovered only after few years, at least from a financial point of view.

Just fyi, being made redundant can still be "abusive" even during the trial period, but proving that will require "basis" (real facts) and lawyers, which are very expensive.

I read unemployment money, without 12 months of contribution, one non EU gets nothing. Maybe only support to look for new job.

As for the permis , it depends if it's tied to the job or not, it should be written on it.

Good luck !
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:57
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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I think the first thing is to decide if you are staying in Switzerland or not.

Your approach may vary based on that, as may the amount of Swiss legal risk you are willing/able to take.

On the 20k - I'd suggest making an offer to pay it back over a longer period, and maybe offer to pay less (even if just as a negotiating position) based on some sort of fairness / costs argument.

If they decided to go full-on debt collection, they wouldn't see any money for months, and they would have to pay the costs.
That's a good idea, thank you.

I think at this point, I plan to stay in Switzerland and want to work from that baseline
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Old 12.10.2017, 12:59
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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I moved to Switzerland several weeks ago from the US to work for a small family office financial firm in Pfäffikon SZ.
If you are a registered financial adviser then this:

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What could they legally do if I don't have the money anymore?
might be a bad idea. AFAIK some financial firms do detailed background checks particularly on the financial aspect and having a judgement against you may affect your chances of getting a job.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:00
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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Is RAV not an option since I've only been here a short while? What will Sozialhilfe provide and how do I apply for it?
RAV helps with finding a job, the payment of any indemnity is a different thing, and most likely you will get nothing.

Having said that, if you are qualified as you claim, it's most likely already out of their scope, in other words you are most likely best to find another work on your own.

In theory, I think you still can register, and like meet every now and then to show them your efforts to find a job, in return of nothing. An administrative burden, most likely.

Having said that, they could put you in some basic trainings, which might be of use.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:07
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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You've just learnt a VERY expensive lesson I'm afraid.

Regarding your B permit, as a Non-EU, it's tied to the employer if I'm not mistaken. As you probably noticed, companies will prefer to hire CH, then EU, over anyone else.

Unless you've skills the market particularly having a high demand for, you're in a rather tight situation. From what I can see, your B permit will be valid for the time being, but without RAV, you could only apply for "Sozialhilfe" if you indeed have zero savings.
EU/Efta foreigners are only entitled for socialhilfe if they worked for a minimum of one year, I'd be surprised if this would be easier for non EU/Efta foreigners. RAV will not pay anything for someone who only worked for a few weeks.

Last edited by EdwinNL; 12.10.2017 at 13:18.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:09
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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One of the worst situation I ever read in EF.

Now, not that it would change much to the "moving on" part, there's something more to the story. Possibly some "highly inflated CV", no?
How come suddenly there is a realization you can't do the job, you passed interviews, there were requirements for the position, no?

Having said that, it reminds the difficult position one is when taking a new job especially that this "introductory period" can leave one stranded in a similar ways. Which is another reason why it's not easy to be an expat, and one takes risks, and something should be done for better integration, or even protection.

I think, unless something were badly done in contracts, that it's a situation which can happen, and possibly nothing can be done from a legal point of view.

Now, due to the sums involved, I'd suggest to attempt negotiation/remediation with that boss, even if, in practice, it's very unlikely to go anywhere positive. Simply because someone decent would simply not terminate someone this way, with all the implications, if there was not something "negative" which was done.

Probably it's a loss/crisis, which has to be taken as a hard experience thing, and which will be recovered only after few years, at least from a financial point of view.

Just fyi, being made redundant can still be "abusive" even during the trial period, but proving that will require "basis" (real facts) and lawyers, which are very expensive.

I read unemployment money, without 12 months of contribution, one non EU gets nothing. Maybe only support to look for new job.

As for the permis , it depends if it's tied to the job or not, it should be written on it.

Good luck !
I have thought about the inflated CV aspect and don't think that's the case, it accurately describes what I had done to date and no more. 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. The bottom line is that the skills needed for the role turned out to be different from what my core strengths are, and the employer wasn't willing to give me a chance to learn them, no matter how quickly I could do it. The employer admitted that in his opinion I could certainly do the job given some time to learn it, but he's just not willing to pay for that time period or to take any time mentoring/teaching me.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:13
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

What are your chances of finding another job?
Do you have money to survive up to the moment you would have a job?
Is your permit tied to your employer?

Finding somebody to take over your rent a.s.a.p. and going back home might not be the desired solution, but if you don't have the money to survive here and it's unsure if you'll land a new job soon this should be among your considerations from start.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:16
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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I have thought about the inflated CV aspect and don't think that's the case, it accurately describes what I had done to date and no more. 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. The bottom line is that the skills needed for the role turned out to be different from what my core strengths are, and the employer wasn't willing to give me a chance to learn them, no matter how quickly I could do it. The employer admitted that in his opinion I could certainly do the job given some time to learn it, but he's just not willing to pay for that time period or to take any time mentoring/teaching me.
Could it be an option to negotiate a lower (or even much lower) salary for the first year? It would ensure your stay in the country and it would save you 20K debt. And yes it might feel like begging or defeat but you'll have also a lot to win.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:20
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

Usually top MBA's are strong when it comes to alumni, have you tried that option?
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:23
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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The employer admitted that in his opinion I could certainly do the job given some time to learn it, but he's just not willing to pay for that time period or to take any time mentoring/teaching me.
Hm might be in your own interest to "bend the knee", somehow accept to have been somehow "scammed", and try to negotiate a temporary period where your salary will be highly reduced, in exchange of the possibility to avoid paying back the relocation fee, and to have basic money just to survive. Of course, just for a few months transition period where you could gain experience, and find a job elsewhere.

Of course, for that particular employer, it has to be presented as " to prove your worth for him", I'd certainly run away from that type of employer asap.

It's not US, there is, without knowing all facts, probably zero chance to go "legal commando". Same as morality or pity or anything else. It appears, with the few information received, that you are in an already lost situation.
That is why, maybe slaving for that employer and give him what he wants might be an occasion to keep afloat a few more months, while swimming for safer waters.
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Old 12.10.2017, 13:35
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Re: Need Help! Terminated after moving to CH

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...
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