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Old 17.06.2021, 09:50
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Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Hi all,

So, I have just been sacked and am in a bit of a panic about what to do next. I have many questions but very little/no support in the real world here in Switzerland so turning to EF like always! I can't give any details about ex employer etc (NDA).

Long time member, new user account to maintain anonymity (apologies but necessary).

I have seen posts about RAV etc but my questions are more basic...be gentle I am still in shock. I am not looking to claim unemployment or get into a legal fight with the ex-employer. Just practical first steps advice.

FYI, UK citizen here with resident B permit, over 55 years old on "garden leave" but with termination date few months away so still being paid for now, living in rented apartment.

Priority Questions:
1. Can I still be paid if I relocate back to the UK during this "garden leave" period?
2. Can I keep my Swiss bank account open if I am no longer living in Switzerland, bank with PostFinance and Neon? I'd need it for salary, flat bills etc for now.
3. Can I get a "PO box" here if needed or redirect all post to a UK address somehow? I have no friends addresses here I can use ...
4. As I am over 55 can I get the pension paid out as a lump sum into a bank account so I can transfer to UK pension? It's a company pension and I want nothing more to do with my ex-employer

General Questions:
5. Can I keep my residency permit after the end of the "gardening leave", isn't there some rule about being abroad is ok for up to 90 days? If I keep it maybe I can find another job whilst still technically resident or maybe it will help to find another job in Europe ( BREXIT probably means not)
6. Any advice on when I need to contact the canton authorities about a. moving to UK, or b. being unemployed?
7. Any guidance on relocation/removal service prices? I did see other posts but they were from 2010, and now we are in corona times. I did contact EF recommended Luker Bros but no answer .... Anyone recommend a good removal company? Small 2 bed flat, not masses of gear, one way to south of England.

I am sure I haven't covered everything so any other tips? I am freaked out but have decided to go back to the UK for friends and family support whilst I look for a new job. I can only get out of my apartment here end of September (most likely and still within "garden leave" period; or end of March 2022 (way after end of garden leave).

Any help really appreciated.... this is a really tough time
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Old 17.06.2021, 12:52
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Sorry about your sitution, one key question: how long have you been in Switzerland on a B permit? More or less than 2 years?



1. Can I still be paid if I relocate back to the UK during this "garden leave" period?
I don't see why not, as you are technically still working - but your employer doesn't need you on site... I believe you can be outside of Switzerland for 90-180 days before you need to give up your B permit... but I may be wrong on this. Try not to lose your B permit, as at the moment UK nationals are third country nationals so it's REALLY challenging for employers to hire if they don't already have a permit.

2. Can I keep my Swiss bank account open if I am no longer living in Switzerland, bank with PostFinance and Neon? I'd need it for salary, flat bills etc for now.
Not officially. If they check, they will ask for your new B permit...

3. Can I get a "PO box" here if needed or redirect all post to a UK address somehow? I have no friends addresses here I can use ...
Yes, there's a few places that offer this service (including the post I believe). That said, these wont be accepted by the gemeinde for residence permit (remember that after leaving your flat, you have 14 days to inform them of your new residence)


What I would consider is that once you move, I don't think you are eligible for RAV support anymore... that's 70-80% of your salary to tide you over until you find a new job.
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Old 17.06.2021, 13:11
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

First, make up your mind. Do you want to stay in Switzerland or to move back?

If you have been in CH for the past 2 years or less, and worked at least 12 months, you should be eligible to stay here, with unemployment benefits to search a new job.

If you want to move back, there are surely some buraucratic difficulties with brexit, but it was possible to carry your unemployment beneift for 2/3 months abroad.
https://www.arbeit.swiss/secoalv/en/...e-eu-efta.html
And I do not see any theoretical blockade for having the same agreement between Switzerland and postBreit UK (they should have been discussing and reaching some agreement in the previous months, ask the consulate?)
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Old 17.06.2021, 13:15
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Don't panic .. assuming since you are a long time member you've been working long enough here to qualify for unemployment benefit.. That gives you quite a buffer.. and it's really the first thing to do, inform them.

You may have missed the September notice period already for the apartment, June-July-August .. So check that carefully.

No idea on banks and pensions but i doubt if you can officially keep open a normal account after officially leaving.
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Old 17.06.2021, 13:16
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Really sorry to hear about your situation timetogo. It sucks...been there, seen it, done it.

As for your pension fund, as you want nothing more to do with your employer you can ask for your money to be paid into a Vested Benefits Account (Freizügigkeitskonto). As you are moving abroad and will want to get at your money, I recommend parking it at an institution based in Schwyz (I can recommend the Schwyzer Kantonalbank). The reason for this is that Schwyz is the Kanton that charges the lowest tax at source for payments abroad and you will not be taxed in the UK on your pension capital payout as per the Double Taxation agreement between Switzerland and the UK.

Your pension at the company will be divided into two parts: the mandatory part (BVG) and the amount above that. You will only be able to withdraw the mandatory part once you have reached retirement age, which in Switzerland could be 60 with early retirement. The rest you can withdraw once you have left the country and have transferred to the UK.

I think that is a fairly accurate summary, but if I am wrong anywhere I am sure someone will lose no time in setting me (and you) straight!

If you are considering staying put and looking for something else here then you register with your unemployment office (RAV), even if you are on Garden Leave. Basically they need to be informed as soon as you know that you have been terminated and you will need to start looking for jobs. But, after a waiting period of 30 days after your employment ends you will be entitled to unemployment benefits.
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Old 17.06.2021, 15:40
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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3. Can I get a "PO box" here if needed or redirect all post to a UK address somehow? I have no friends addresses here I can use ...
The simplest thing is probably just to redirect your mail - then you don't need to inform anyone else that anything has changed. You can redirect to an address abroad for up to a year.

https://www.post.ch/en/receiving-mai...ith-forwarding

Like everything in Switzerland, it is expensive at CHF90 for 12 months redirection, but it simplifies a lot of the other problems you've highlighted.

On an unrelated note, when I was part of a large-scale restructuring, they had something called a 'hardship fund' that you could apply for. If such a fund exists, or if you are prepared to negotiate your settlement if you haven't already signed it, asking for a lump sum to cover moving costs is not unreasonable. Make sure you ask for enough to cover all the expenses - my instinct tells me that CHF25k would be a reasonable ask (they can always say no or offer less, so don't underbid from the start!)
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Old 17.06.2021, 15:49
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Isn‘t he allowed the full amount of pillar 2 now that the UK is no longer part of the EU?
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Old 17.06.2021, 16:11
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

1. If I were you I'd keep the apartment on until your employment expires(check your contract for termination dates - they're not necessarily what has been written in a post above) then go to the UK as like a vacation.
Your permit would/could get revoked if you spend more than 6 months outside of CH. The 90/180 thing is a red herring.
2. Keep your flat - keep your permit - keep your bank account.
3. Yes you can get international forwarding. I believe there might even be a post to e-mail service(?)
4. Don't know, ask your pension company.
5. Keep it until it expires, until you deregister or at least until you've been out of the country for 6 months. With the pandemic anything goes at the moment.

Don't panic. You could register for RAV, play the game and as the meetings are online you could be anywhere you wanted.
55 is that inbetween age and as someone else writes there may be other options where you're basically paid until you reach retirement age.
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Old 17.06.2021, 18:20
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

timetogo


sorry this has happened to you. Be kind and gentle to yourself.


separately a long way down the line. Should you get RAV payments, believe you are allowed to relocate, i.e. uk and have about 3 months of RAV payments transferred there if you are still out of work during those 3 months. However you must have received at least a month's payment of RAV in Switzerland before you can do that.
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Old 17.06.2021, 18:21
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Thanks everyone, I'm not sure why the "thanks" option isn't working for each post.

So, a bit of clarification:

- Yes been here 6 years employed full time
- My "gardening leave" officially ends 31st December 2021
- Checked with landlord/contract and I can move out end of September if I give notice in the next few days, the next date I could move out would be March 2022 (without finding new tenant etc etc)

So I was hoping to move back to the UK end September so I don't have to pay out for the flat for another 6 months and at the same time still get paid on "garden leave" from now to end December.

Once in the UK if I was still getting my Swiss salary I'd be able to save a lot more than I could if I stayed here; I definitely want to move out of the flat/town I am in currently regardless of anything else. Too many links to my ex-employer.

Naturally in an ideal world I'd keep the residency until the very last minute just in case I find a new job in Switzerland. FROM the UK, I plan to look for a job both in UK and Switzerland, and Germany...

**
Reading the responses I think my flat is the problem. If I move out, they will inform "others" and I will need to de-register within 2 weeks and so lose my resident permit...
**

Does it boil down to this:
I risk moving away at the end of September which may end my gardening leave payments, so miss out on 3 months Swiss salary
OR
Keep the flat and suck up the rent until March but guarantee the September to December salary payments

Thanks all
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Old 17.06.2021, 18:37
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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The simplest thing is probably just to redirect your mail - then you don't need to inform anyone else that anything has changed. You can redirect to an address abroad for up to a year.
https://www.post.ch/en/receiving-mai...ith-forwarding
Like everything in Switzerland, it is expensive at CHF90 for 12 months redirection, but it simplifies a lot of the other problems you've highlighted.
I like the simplicity of this but it may be a gamble. Assuming I physically relocate to the UK end September.

If I redirect the post I guess I still need to keep renting the flat... that may still just about work out better financially... 6 months rent (Sept to March) is less than the 3 months salary (Sept to Dec).

Example calculation (not exact figures but close):
Monthly net income Sept to Dec CHF 6,000 x3 = 18,000
Monthly rent Sept to March CHF 2,000 x6 = 12,000

Any catch to this you/anyone can think of?

My concern would be if I get a new job the "garden leave" payments end and I'd still be stuck paying the rent until March but maybe I wouldn't care so much if I had a new job A gamble on if I think I can get a new job (in UK or Switzerland)
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Old 17.06.2021, 18:53
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Also worth considering that 2nd Pillar pension law changed in January to protect workers aged 58 (I incorrectly wrote 55) and above who lose their job.

If you were have the right to continue to remain in the employers pension fund and its insured benefits, and to benefit from interest attributed to your pension savings - like any other employee.

https://www.fctpension.swiss/en/actu...rticle-47a-LPP

Take some time to work through the shock and anger you must be feeling - and don't react in haste.

Use the unemployment benefits as you look for a role, and continue contributing to your second pillar, and getting the interest payments.

At the very worst case, you'd have two more years of pension contributions to draw down, or take as a pension, if you don't find a new role.

Last edited by HIAO; 17.06.2021 at 19:42. Reason: Changing 55 to 58, which I realise means this post is not useful for OP.
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Old 17.06.2021, 18:56
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Quote:
1. Can I still be paid if I relocate back to the UK during this "garden leave" period?
Gardening leave does not equal holidays, you have just been told that you are not required to come into the office each day, but you must be available and come in, if and when required.

Obviously if you are not able to respond to a request to return to the office ten you would be in breach of contract and they would not have to continue paying your salary.

Less obvious is that if you are in breach of contract is that certain insurance policies may no apply depending on the circumstances - accident and loss of income for example.
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:11
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

Quote:
4. As I am over 55 can I get the pension paid out as a lump sum into a bank account so I can transfer to UK pension? It's a company pension and I want nothing more to do with my ex-employer
First of all your pension is not with the company, it is with a pension trust of some type, either one set up specifically for the company it is a large company or a third party for smaller companies. And disliking your former employer is not a good enough reason to walk away.

At 55 you have two choices:
1. Transfer the money into a special savings account run by one of the financial institutions and from there apply to have it returned to the UK.
2. Remain in the pension fund but no longer continue to make contributions

The second option should not be over looked as it still provides invalidity pension for you and your dependents.
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:13
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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Gardening leave does not equal holidays, you have just been told that you are not required to come into the office each day, but you must be available and come in, if and when required.

Obviously if you are not able to respond to a request to return to the office then you would be in breach of contract and they would not have to continue paying your salary.
Sigh... I was worried that might be the case. I really need those monthly payments whilst I figure out next steps.

I've been "working from home" for 12 months and not had to go in once... except to get sacked; but I have no reason to suspect they wouldn't use this rule to not pay me.

Thinking I might physically go to the UK, redirect my mail but keep my apartment/B permit etc until after garden leave period ends...expensive in rent but technically could return to the office presuming flights are running!

Arghhhhhh ....
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:20
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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Should you get RAV payments, believe you are allowed to relocate, i.e. uk and have about 3 months of RAV payments transferred there if you are still out of work during those 3 months. However you must have received at least a month's payment of RAV in Switzerland before you can do that.
And your RAV adviser must agree to it. This is to stop certain individuals who were using it as paid holidays! At 55 there is little chance of someone finding a job as far as the RAV is concerned, so it should not be an issue, but it is not automatic.
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:24
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

I would suggest that you do nothing for a few days as you are still in shock at what has happened. As already posted, depending on your time in Switzerland you will be entitled to RAV.
If it is any consolation my son-in-law experienced the same situation as you - he was in a panic and considered going back to the UK. Went on the RAV and started the task of applying for jobs that you have to do.
Got an interview for a fabulous job which he got and has never looked back.
So sit tight and decided if you want to return to the UK or continue to work and live in Switzerland.
Wish you lots of luck too ..
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:30
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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Thinking I might physically go to the UK, redirect my mail but keep my apartment/B permit etc until after garden leave period ends...expensive in rent but technically could return to the office presuming flights are running!.
Within an hour or two of being asked to come in? If you are at home you should be able to come in PDQ.

In my thirty years working in Switzerland I’ve seen many people get gardening leave especially with all the redundancy waves in the banks and I have never heard of anyone being called back. But I suppose it depends on the true nature of your departure, your relationship with your supervisor and whether there are real situations where they might need your assistance.
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Old 17.06.2021, 19:58
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

I am very sorry you're going through this. Try not to make any permanent decisions based on temporary emotions. The anger and shock will subside with time.



Deep breaths. This is undoubtedly a really tough time. Breathing exercises can help us to cope with stress and anxiety, and they are very simple to learn, and require no financial outlay.


Take care of your mental health. Get outside moving your body as much as possible, even if that means just meandering, or leisurely riding your bike about. I believe a lot of healing is possible through creative pursuits like writing and drawing. Are you inclined to be creative at all?



Seize the opportunity to have a big sort-out at home, as this will help you in both scenarios (staying and leaving). Get rid of clutter, clothes you don't wear, excess furniture and gadgets, the stuff that lives in the cellar... Make a list of all the nooks and crannies to be cleaned, and clean from top to bottom (a little bit each day til you're just maintaining it)...


Try to catch a sunrise or sunset most days. This is a beautiful time of year, and we can draw a lot of energy and hope from witnessing something so powerful, yet simple.


Have a think about what inspires you to get through difficult days. Is it affirmations you could say outloud? Is it stories of triumph over adversity? Is it growing a plant from a seed? Is it putting inspirational quotations in your line of sight at home? Is it making a list of things to do, and ticking them off as you get through each?


Don't rule-out finding someone to take-over your apartment, or sub-letting it. The notice periods in your contract seem ridiculous, but they don't have to be the be-all and end-all.



There are wonderful org's in Switzerland helping with writing job application letters, if that's a service that'd help you. There are also many that will offer a shoulder to cry on, or just a peaceful space to escape to where you'll find a warm smile and others who know how it feels to be overwhelmed by life's vicissitudes.


Do you have sufficient access to internet, computers and printing? If not, plenty of org's exist that can help with these for free, and the libraries also have internet and computers (they are free of charge here to use, and the printers are a paid service).


Please keep posting. We all benefit from reminders like this, of how quickly life can turn, and you are not alone, however lonely you might feel. If you need anything, or would just like some company, please post, and I am sure you'll find some kind posters offering practical skills, or words of encouragement.


Please take good care of yourself.
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Old 17.06.2021, 20:03
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Re: Sacked as an Expat....now what?

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In my thirty years working in Switzerland I’ve seen many people get gardening leave especially with all the redundancy waves in the banks and I have never heard of anyone being called back.
Well yes exactly. Why advise it's a risky strategy then say that it never happens?
When you're told to go on garden leave, you're being told that you are and will not be needed. I know some people who voluntarily continued to work but they got extra compensation for that. When you're on gardening leave you're not on call and you're free to make whatever plans you want.
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