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Old 07.01.2007, 00:29
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Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Hello everyone!

Happy New Year!

This is my first post after reading the discussions for several days.

I would like to ask for your advice on something I consider being important for me and my famiy.

I am currently working for one of the multinational companies (top five) as a scientist. Back in 2002 when I was still on my permanent contract I was called by a Swiss company (mid size) and asked if I would join them (I had not applied). I went to meet the CEO and HR head and I was offered a position. At the same time I was offered a permanent job in my company which I accepted and refused to go to Switzerland. After several months I was approached again but I told them that I was not interested.

After almost four years, I received a call a couple of weeks before Christmas and was asked if I would be interested.... .

I was asked to visit them again and this time, with my wife.

They are extremely serious and I started to wonder whether I should accept in the end.

I have, however several questions and I hope to find the answers in this forum.

First, although I have a degree (PhD) my potentially new position will not benefit from my having educated myself to this level. This reminds me one of the postings here. If you were a pilot it would not give you better chances to work as a bus driver. They are keen in investing time and money to train me and help me learn German (yes, I do not speak the language and the position is as you have guessed in the German speaking part). I am talking 2-3 years here. After that I will work as a consultant and sales representative.

My questions are:
Is it true (I was told that back in 2002) that once part of a Swiss company (not a multinational one) it is both sides commitment until you retire? At the same time the company I am working for at the moment is trying to cut (this is the world trend) down on expensive research and in this respect it is not that clear what is going to happen in five years.

I believe that I will get B permit, but I did not get the impression that my wife for example will be elligible for working in the country. Is this possible at all?

I have lived in France, Germany and for quite some time in the UK. I have enjoyed the tolerance of British people, someting you do not find even in the US. Are Swiss xenophobic? What are the chances of my chlidren integrating easily?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Regards.
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Old 07.01.2007, 00:38
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Is it true (I was told that back in 2002) that once part of a Swiss company (not a multinational one) it is both sides commitment until you retire? At the same time the company I am working for at the moment is trying to cut (this is the world trend) down on expensive research and in this respect it is not that clear what is going to happen in five years.
Hi John

I'm not really sure what to make of this, but rest assured that Swiss employers can and will certainly cut back on spending and jobs if necessary.

With regards to integration, as an adult it can be hard to integrate with the Swiss natives though I can't really comment from a kid perspective.

No idea on the permit situation for wives I'm afraid

Cheers

Zeni
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Old 07.01.2007, 00:59
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Thanks Zeni,

That was said in a more informative way of course. I would not get this on the contract for sure . I agree when it comes to efficacy all measures are allowed (cutting jobs including).

I personally am not afraid from not being able to integrate. I have done this many times by far.
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Old 07.01.2007, 01:44
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
<snip>My questions are:
Is it true (I was told that back in 2002) that once part of a Swiss company (not a multinational one) it is both sides commitment until you retire? <snip>
You are in the UK. Swiss employment laws are about where British ones were 40 years ago. This means dismissing employees is easy here. One of the the many reasons companies are moving to Switzerland.

"Until you retire?" - slim chance - or is it fat chance...
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Old 07.01.2007, 02:36
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
You are in the UK. Swiss employment laws are about where British ones were 40 years ago. This means dismissing employees is easy here. One of the the many reasons companies are moving to Switzerland.

"Until you retire?" - slim chance - or is it fat chance...
Thanks AbFab,

I am still to make a move. In this respect all information I hope will gather from this great forum will be used to make the right decision.
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Old 11.01.2007, 16:04
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
You are in the UK. Swiss employment laws are about where British ones were 40 years ago. This means dismissing employees is easy here. One of the the many reasons companies are moving to Switzerland.

"Until you retire?" - slim chance - or is it fat chance...

Huh? Did I hear that right? I got the impression that employment laws in Switzerland made it pretty difficult to dismiss employees on a whim once their probation time is done. The Swiss really like to be secure in their job, moreso than any other nation that I've seen.

British working regulations on the other hand are some of the most lax in the EU - that's the reason why GB attracts such high levels of foreign investment compared to other European countries. Of course, the downside is that the British jobs will be the first to go when the company decides to reduce their workforce (eg. Peugeot).


Gav
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Old 11.01.2007, 16:39
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

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Huh? Did I hear that right? I got the impression that employment laws in Switzerland made it pretty difficult to dismiss employees on a whim once their probation time is done. The Swiss really like to be secure in their job, moreso than any other nation that I've seen.
Correct. The only requirement is to respect the dismissal notice.
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Old 11.01.2007, 17:11
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

I think wherever you choose to move to can only be an improvement on where the UK is heading fast (i.e. downhill). I know many people that moved here, left, only to come back again. It's got to say something. Of course there will be obstacles and "iritations" but nothing we don't all get over after time. The benefits outweigh the rest.

And as far as children go they adapt pretty easily. My 19 month old doesn't speak much yet but he already understands both Eng & Swiss German.
Old or young it's also down to personailty. Switzerland is very diverse and there is something for everyone.
Good luck in whatever you choose.
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Old 11.01.2007, 18:36
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Huh? Did I hear that right? I got the impression that employment laws in Switzerland made it pretty difficult to dismiss employees on a whim once their probation time is done. The Swiss really like to be secure in their job, moreso than any other nation that I've seen.
As others have said, employment laws in Switzerland are very relaxed.

Gross misconduct may result in instant dismissal with no notice period but this is rare.

If a company simply wants rid of you they may terminate your contract at any time, provided that they pay you for the notice period in your contract. I say it in this way because the companies I've had experience off tend to put people on gardening leave when they terminate the contract e.g. the employee is asked to leave and is then paid for the notice period without them having to work.

What is interesting is that if a company wishes to terminate the contract, no reason is necessary.
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Old 11.01.2007, 18:58
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
As others have said, employment laws in Switzerland are very relaxed.

Gross misconduct may result in instant dismissal with no notice period but this is rare.

If a company simply wants rid of you they may terminate your contract at any time, provided that they pay you for the notice period in your contract. I say it in this way because the companies I've had experience off tend to put people on gardening leave when they terminate the contract e.g. the employee is asked to leave and is then paid for the notice period without them having to work.

What is interesting is that if a company wishes to terminate the contract, no reason is necessary.

Hmmm, never knew that. I always thought that with things like a 3 month termination period being common where I worked, it meant that employment law was pretty strong.

Guess the reason that Swiss employees were so keen to have a 3 month period was because they could be dismissed at any time and it offered them some protection...... (personally I thought a 3 month notice was a pain in the ass and would much have preferred one month).

Gav
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Old 11.01.2007, 20:59
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Guess the reason that Swiss employees were so keen to have a 3 month period was because they could be dismissed at any time and it offered them some protection...... (personally I thought a 3 month notice was a pain in the ass and would much have preferred one month).
Some places have a six month period for older (over 40 or a certain number of years at the company? not sure) employees. Works great if you've been let go, but if you leave and have to work out a six month notice period, it can be a bit much...
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Old 11.01.2007, 21:14
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

The only part of your dilema i can comment on is the integration of your children. I have worked with children for 7 years (mainly early years) and they do adapt to change really well. Depending on their ages (older children wont want to leave their friends etc) they get used to different things really quickly, they're so bound by preconceptions. They pick up a new language a lot faster than adults too. I think giving children the oppertunity to gain life knowledge îs one of the most worthy educational instruments a child can have.
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Old 11.01.2007, 21:19
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

sorry... NOT bound by preconceptions... teach me to read my posts before submitting them!
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Old 12.01.2007, 11:52
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Thank you all for your replies!

As I have mentioned before they are keen on investing in some training (I am talking here about 2-3 years), which makes me believe that they should be really serious about the long term employment. Having said that I realise how quickly the economical situation might change. But it is true anywehere. Recently (just before Christmas) I was in Berlin and was really suprised to hear that people have been aksed whether they would stay with cut down salaries. The other option being laid off. Many people bit the bullet in order to stay employeed. The point I am trying to get at is that no such a thing as eternal (job-wise) safety exists anymore.

I agree that children adapt easily (especially when in their early years) and pick up the language the way it should be spoken. My concern is more about my eldset boy who is currrently doing excellently in a Grammar school and I do not want to ruin his future taking him to a German speaking school (he does not speak German). Obviously the way to go is the Interantionnal Schools, but they are quite pricey (well beyond the private schools in the UK).

Is it a normal practice for the company to cover this bill and what are the chances for successfully negotiating this? I would be very grateful to hear your opinion on that.

Thanks again, it is a real pleasure to read your thoughts and advice!

Cheers!
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Old 27.01.2007, 08:45
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

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They are keen in investing time and money to train me and help me learn German (yes, I do not speak the language and the position is as you have guessed in the German speaking part). I am talking 2-3 years here. After that I will work as a consultant and sales representative.
Just wanted to share a little on my perspective. 2-3 sounds like a really long time, and have no doubt that a strong grasp of the language can be accomplished... from an immigrant's perspective. Your ability to communicate effectively depends on what your perspective of effectively is. Remember, you won't be able to achieve the same level as your own language and may often be look down on because of your language deficiencies. Even if you manage to get on with the work, there's whole part of cultural nuances, humour, dialects... that will take years to grasp.

I'm not trying discourage anyone, but I always find it interesting when someone will move to a country and "pick up" the language in short period of time. I will be moving to Switzerland and will have to go through this process for the 3rd time. Maybe it's my perspective for the value to speak at a certain level of a language. But communicating on a day-to-day basis goes beyond grammar and vocabulary. It can be trying at times.
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Old 28.01.2007, 22:10
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Hi Pepparkaka

Thanks for your post. I agree with every word you have written. I realise that learning a language does not end up with having to know how to introduce yourself and do your work. For me a foreign language could only be improved but never learnt as a native person. Something, in my opinion, that should matter even for the German speaking Swiss is the effort you are eager to put into place in order to get as close as possible. They might appreciate it and help you out (I hope).

This would be a great challenge indeed. More for my family than me. I am more concerned about my children integration as I have read some scarry stories for the Swiss schools, and more precisely speaking for the "closed" society Swiss families and their children is.

On the other hand children pick up the language the best way possible and in no time they speak as the locals. Hopefully this period would be short.

I have not yet decided whether I will take this step or not. This depends on my visit to my potential employer when I am going to discuss my conditions.

This exchange however, is extremely useful for me as it lets me get information from the horse mouth, something you do not find from the official statistics.

Thanks again!
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Old 06.02.2007, 22:27
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Hello,

This is my first post and I am interested in your postings because as a scientist I am also considering moving to Switzerland, so I hope you will continue to keep us posted on what happens.

I moved to Germany 5 years ago with no real prior knowledge of the language. In spite of this I have survived because many of the people speak English and English is our working language. However, I must stress that I only survive - I do feel that my quality of life and ability to progress (for sure) is hindered by my inability to speak fluent German. To acquire the ability to converse in the German language will take a considerable effort on your part, as it is a difficult language to master. Moreover, if you are working on a daily basis, finding the time to actually study the language will be difficult. One of my colleagues took an intensive course which was something like 5 evenings per week for about 12 weeks. Unfortunately, I was not able to take off so much time.
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Old 06.02.2007, 22:51
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Hi Pepparkaka

Thanks for your post. I agree with every word you have written. I realise that learning a language does not end up with having to know how to introduce yourself and do your work. For me a foreign language could only be improved but never learnt as a native person. Something, in my opinion, that should matter even for the German speaking Swiss is the effort you are eager to put into place in order to get as close as possible. They might appreciate it and help you out (I hope).

This would be a great challenge indeed. More for my family than me. I am more concerned about my children integration as I have read some scarry stories for the Swiss schools, and more precisely speaking for the "closed" society Swiss families and their children is.

On the other hand children pick up the language the best way possible and in no time they speak as the locals. Hopefully this period would be short.

I have not yet decided whether I will take this step or not. This depends on my visit to my potential employer when I am going to discuss my conditions.

This exchange however, is extremely useful for me as it lets me get information from the horse mouth, something you do not find from the official statistics.

Thanks again!
Hi John, nobody wants to answer your burning question so I will.

If you are being recruited from abroad it is not uncommon for the employing company to provide you with some form of ex-pat relief. This includes International school subsidy or indeed full payment. The cost per child will be between 25 and 30K. Although I am not sure how many children you have there will be two issues with them.

1. Integration into the school.
2. Integration into the Swiss syllabus.

The integration into the school is more or less universal in that any child moving into a new area is the "new boy/girl" and are treated differently - some aspects of which are positive but not all. The problem is exacerbated here by the fact there will be an additional barrier of the language. If German was bad, Swiss German is x times worse in that they need to learn the language for the school and the language for the street... There ability to do this will be dependent on their motivation and their age. Clearly the younger the better.

The school syllabus is where you might well have the key problem. The Swiss high school examination is more or less uniquely Swiss. They are starting to move a little more towards baccalaureate but still have their own world where languages and the arts are predominant. Science here is rather backward until such times as they go to university...
The second issue of the syllabus which is much more of a problem is the strict streaming of children at a relatively early age into either higher education stream (Grammar School) or apprenticeship. Once in it is nigh on impossible to get out of the stream you are in although there are (as usual) cantonal variations in this. Furthermore, and this is almost impossible to believe, your form teacher independently writes a report which forms part of your future references and based on this can result in you not achieving what you might. I guess it is one way to ensure good behaviour but on the other hand can lead quite easily to abuse. Thankfully by far the majority of teachers are sensible.

Now here is a tip. If you do decide to come to Switzerland make SURE you get your business cards printed early and make SURE they have your title on ie Dr. Then go to the school and give the school director and form teacher your cards just in case they need to contact you. Believe me titles here do mean something. I have known people who were (more or less) useless employed on salaries way over the odds because they were a Dr. or Prof. Its one advantage you have so make sure you use it.

Richard
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Old 07.02.2007, 08:08
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Believe me titles here do mean something. I have known people who were (more or less) useless employed on salaries way over the odds because they were a Dr. or Prof. Its one advantage you have so make sure you use it.

Richard
Richard does the title thing on the business card apply to a normal university graduate as well? I always got the impression back home in UK that putting BA/MA next to your name was pretentious as it's no big deal in UK. Every Tom DIck and Harry seems to be a graduate these days. Are you saying one should still use them in CH ? OR you mean only when someone is a post graduate OR a mad scientist? People here don't seem to know what a BA is though

To the author of this thread-

If you have a VERY good lifestyle in UK then I would suggest staying there. On the other hand CH is heaven on earth + UK seems to be going downhill fast.
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Old 07.02.2007, 09:14
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Re: Moving to Switzerland? Right Move? Advice please.

Quote:
Richard does the title thing on the business card apply to a normal university graduate as well? I always got the impression back home in UK that putting BA/MA next to your name was pretentious as it's no big deal in UK. Every Tom DIck and Harry seems to be a graduate these days. Are you saying one should still use them in CH ? OR you mean only when someone is a post graduate OR a mad scientist? People here don't seem to know what a BA is though

To the author of this thread-

If you have a VERY good lifestyle in UK then I would suggest staying there. On the other hand CH is heaven on earth + UK seems to be going downhill fast.
Helloa,

I guess it depends on what you are doing. If you have a PHD you can use the title Dr. which is a form of address. There is no equivalent unfortunately for Bachelor and Master. - However have you never noticed on business cards how odten you see lic oc publ or ing or something similar? That is using of titles. It is well worthwhile actually getting your equivalent title checked out and put on a card IF it is any way relevant.
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