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Old 03.12.2008, 21:41
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Laid off before work even started

Hello. Name is Bill Wilson and I am new to this forum.

Unfortunately, I just found it due to a problem. Here is my situation:

I am a Canadian national who moved to Sursee about 9 weeks ago. I was to head a web hosting company starting Dec 1. Our B permit arrived last week and we just moved into a nice flat.Today I went into the temporary office and received an email the company owners (in the U.K.) that due to economic conditions, they are canceling the project. I will receive funds to relocate, but will not be paid any salary.

I contacted my former employer in Canada and he's willing to have me start in two weeks or so. We will probably move back to Canada in the next week or so after the movers pick up our household goods since my permit is connected to my (former) employer.

My question is what should I do about the contracts/leases I have signed?

I have contracts with:

Swisscom for tv/internet/fixed phone (1 year)
Sunrise for my handy (1 year)
Lease for my flat (3 month notice)
Daycare for my 2 years old (3 month notice)

My questions are many ... what should I do?

Are there any protections under swiss law or in the contracts for problems like this?

What happens if I just move back to Canada and don't pay the bills? (I really don't want to do that but I don't have alot of money right now).

Will I have bad credit in Switzerland?

Would I be denied re-entry as a tourist or barred from future work permits?

Any and all suggestions would be helpful. Thank you very much
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Old 03.12.2008, 21:52
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Re: Laid off before work even started

Bill, I was really shocked to read your post - I cannot imagine the stress you are under.
Sadly, I do not know the answers to your questions but most members are on the forum during working hours so I am sure that they will point you in the right direction then if not before. Good Luck
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Old 03.12.2008, 21:53
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Re: Laid off before work even started

Your employer should pay, I say!

Breach of contract - did your employer give you the required notice period or pay you in lieu of notice ?

No, I'm not a lawyer and this is just my opinion...sounds really nasty...

The flat shouldn't be too hard to give away to someone else (hopefully) - you see these advertised often as 'Nachmeiter' - someone taking over an existing lease... if it was me I would contact the landlord immediately as they may have someone who can take it, perhaps someone else who applied when you did ? Also you will find quite a few threads on here about what to do if you need to terminate your lease...

The other contracts, I would phone ASAP to the companies and see what they suggest. Also, if someone takes up your apartment, they might also be able to transfer some of your contracts over for less than the termination cost...

It would not be wise to leave your debts behind...and the companies will probably breathe down your neck if they know you are leaving the country...however, they might negotiate on giving you your pay-out amounts immediately as well as making a payment plan...because they know if they have to chase you for money that you don't have it will only cost them administration time...
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Old 03.12.2008, 22:06
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Re: Laid off before work even started

Hi. I am so sorry to read your post. I think it is disgusting that your new company could do this to you and even worse that they did it via e-mail. I can only imagine what you are going through. My husband's boss at least had the courtesy to delay our transfer so that the company had time to evaluate their financial situation before we gave up everything here.

I don't know what the Swiss companies are like, but here, if you have a problem such as yours, the contracts can be terminated for a minimal fee, provided that you are open with them. Sometimes there is a window period where you can still cancel the deal, so I agree with Swisspea - contact them as soon as possible, explain the situation, and ask them for help. They may very well be more understanding and helpful than you anticipate.

It is never a bad idea to leave bad debt behind, as it will invariably catch up with you in the end.
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Old 03.12.2008, 23:41
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Re: Laid off before work even started

I'm not 100% sure but I think you can breach contracts under circumstances like yours. It falls under the clause of "unzumutbar". I would invest in some hours with a lawyer though if I were you. Just to make sure you get the right deal from your employer and also he can help you to get out of the contracts.
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Old 04.12.2008, 00:01
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Re: Laid off before work even started

Please give me the flat details I might be able to help...
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Old 04.12.2008, 00:21
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Re: Laid off before work even started

The issue of the notice period may be moot since the OP hasn't started work yet. In which case the notice period would be a statutory 1 week, which isn't going to help him really.

I would certainly contact the companies involved and try and reach an agreement. Some may be willing to talk, others less so, but it is worth giving it a try. The one which I imagine may be the most difficult could be your apartment.

It really is a difficult one and since your employer actually appears to be UK-based it only makes it more difficult as the regress is more complicated.

I wish you all the best and hope that you can salvage something.

A bad credit rating in Switzerland is nothing to be worried about if you are not thinking about coming back to live here. If you come back as a tourist it is irrelevant.
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Old 04.12.2008, 02:49
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Re: Laid off before work even started

I guess it is not a breach of contract unless the contract stated that you cannot get fired... very unlikely. Normally in CH you can be sent home within a week in the first three months. So unfortunately, the costs will be yours.

However, since you can prove that you will leave the country, it should be possible to get out of most of them: Swisscom should be no problem, Sunrise only if you got a subsidized new mobile (?) with your contract.
Apartment: You will need to organize someone to take it over and your landlords has to let you go. Should not be too difficult as there is usually some demand for apartments on this forum...

Sorry to hear this story... I think it is ridiculous to ask you to move over here just to send you back. Sounds like a crap employer, but I guess nowadays companies can blame everything on "the financial crisis".
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Old 04.12.2008, 10:20
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Re: Laid off before work even started

I've had to assist some employees in our company with similar problems (i.e. they were made redundant). Though, the above threads give similar advice.

For Swisscom and Sunrise, you should be able to cancel your contracts with no problems, especially if you explain to them your situation. If you have to leave the country (for whatever reason), they have the discretion to terminate your contracts. In any event, it's not worth the cost for them to go after you in Canada for your monthly payments. There may possibly be an exit fee, but in the cases I've managed, this fee has been waived.

The rental lease is a bit more tricky. You should give notice right away and engage an agent to find a replacement tenant. If you are lucky to find a new tenant quickly (not sure what the market in Luzern is like), see if your landlord would be willing to have the lease transferred to the new tenant. Otherwise, it's possible that you may have to pay the rent for the duration of the notice period.

My recommendation is to get your (former) Swiss employer to handle the rental lease and the daycare problem. Particularly since you made the effort of relocating here, and you did actually start work on 1 December, they should not just turn their backs to the problems they have created for you. I would try and negotiate a relocation package back to Canada that includes any amount you may need to pay under the rental lease and daycare contract.

Another thing to consider is that you should be entitled to at least 1 weeks' salary, which is the notice period during a probationary period (assuming there was a probationary period in your employment contract, otherwise the notice period could be 1 month). This might be a small amount in the scheme of things, but every little bit helps. Though, if your employment contract is subject to UK law (and not Swiss law), then things might be a bit different.

All the best with the move back to Canada.
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Old 04.12.2008, 10:31
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Re: Laid off before work even started

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The rental lease is a bit more tricky. You should give notice right away and engage an agent to find a replacement tenant. If you are lucky to find a new tenant quickly (not sure what the market in Luzern is like), see if your landlord would be willing to have the lease transferred to the new tenant. Otherwise, it's possible that you may have to pay the rent for the duration of the notice period.

Actually, if you supply your tenant with a list of suitable candidates, the landlord has to bail you out of the contract. There is a specific procedure and a specific notification letter for it (it what most people do to avoid the official moving days)

I would recommend you to get in touch with the association of tenants for further explanation - it could well be that Luzern is different that Kanton St Gallen or Zurich...

http://www.mieterverband.ch/

Best of luck !
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Old 04.12.2008, 10:37
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Re: Laid off before work even started

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Today I went into the temporary office and received an email the company owners (in the U.K.) that due to economic conditions, they are canceling the project. I will receive funds to relocate, but will not be paid any salary.
What a way to tell you this, by email. What a bunch of cowards. So you have said that you will be receiving funds to relocate. I think that it is only fair these funds should be sufficient to cover not only moving costs but the costs for you to fulfill your contractual obligations here, such as those for the utilities etc. you have listed. Give these companies the written information and see if you can make a deal. Sometimes people can be sympathetic. It never hurts to try. All notice to terminate contracts is best done in writing. When you have a summary of the costs you are on the hook for, give this to the employer in the UK telling them that you expect them to cover these costs.

Regarding your lease, you may be on the hook until you can give notice to the end of that notice period. So you need to find someone to take over your contract "nachmieter" right away. Until you find such a person, you are not just on the hook for 3 months unless the lease is written this way. This would be specified in the lease and it does vary from lease to lease but it could be that the first time you can give notice is not until next year. Talk to the property manager right away to see what can be sorted out.

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I contacted my former employer in Canada and he's willing to have me start in two weeks or so. We will probably move back to Canada in the next week or so after the movers pick up our household goods since my permit is connected to my (former) employer.
Does your former employer have anything to do with the employer in the UK? Is it the same company?

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What happens if I just move back to Canada and don't pay the bills? (I really don't want to do that but I don't have alot of money right now).
Will I have bad credit in Switzerland?
Would I be denied re-entry as a tourist or barred from future work permits?
I would not recommend this. Since a B permit has been issued, you now have a file here, they have a copy of your Canadian passport, they know your former employer, and where you will be returning to work. It is never a good idea to leave debts behind and if you did so and tried to return to work here, I think this could be difficult.

By the way, don't forget to notify the Gemeinde of your situation.

I know this is not a guy thing but try and look helpless. you may get further. I would be really angry, but try to direct this at the people in the UK, who sound like they deserve it.

Good luck. Hope you get it all sorted out.
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Old 04.12.2008, 11:34
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Re: Laid off before work even started

1st, I want to thank everyone for the replies. I have gotten over the initial shock of it all and am dealing with the actual move.

The moving company is picking up our household goods next week then we will be leaving a few days later.

I'm upset, however the UK parent company has no money (they are in bankruptcy now I heard) and the company here in Switzerland was a startup. I have setup a meeting with our treuhand to help with canceling contracts, etc.

Again, I do not like leaving bills behind however I feel it's unfair we have to give 3 months notice for daycare and the flat (the owner rents it themselves and they have 3 months security deposit of ours) when we cannot even stay in the country.

One person emailed me and suggested paying the small bills and notifying the daycare/landlord after departure.

Then check in 3-4 months to see if there is a Betreibung. If so, then try to negotiate a settlement for a smaller amount.

To the poster mentioning my the debts would follow, I seriously doubt there could be any type of enforcement once a person leaves the country.

Hopefully, the treuhand will have some knowledge of what to do so all is clean upon leaving.

Again, thank you very much for the advice and I welcome any additional comments.

Cheers,

Bill
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Old 04.12.2008, 13:08
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Re: Laid off before work even started

Which is why I think it would be ruled in your favour if it came up before a judge. This is the "unzumutbar" part I mentioned. But please double check this with a lawyer.

The advice of letting it go to betreibung and then deal with it is also not a bad idea. But again, please do it with proper legal advice on your side.

What you for sure should pay is everything were you have actually gotten a service delivered. Say the child was in day care 1 week, then you pay up one week. You pay the rent up untill the day you return the keys and so on.



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I feel it's unfair we have to give 3 months notice for daycare and the flat (the owner rents it themselves and they have 3 months security deposit of ours) when we cannot even stay in the country.
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Old 04.12.2008, 14:49
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Re: Laid off before work even started

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You pay the rent up untill the day you return the keys and so on.
Except that the landlord already has three months deposit. The ideal thing would be to find a follow-on tenant, but this will be really difficult in the time you have left. Also, I don't know what the apartment situation is like in Sursee and how much demand there is for apartments, especially at this time of year.
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