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Old 27.05.2009, 11:57
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Getting canned tomorrow!

Suffice it to say that it will almost certainly happen tomorrow, both to me and another member of senior staff, largely as a cost cutting measure to reassure the investor.

Cutting a very long story short, I suspect that my boss has used me as a bit of a scapegoat to cover up her own screw-ups. I inherited a mess to manage and while I have spent the last year trying to do my job, my ability to do so has been continually undermined. Nonetheless, I have probably been cited as the reason for this disaster in closed meetings with the investor and am naturally concerned with how this may be reflected in my letters of reference.

Naturally, I'm as prepared as I could be (and yes, I have read the threads here on this issue) and will even hand her a letter formally requesting my
Zwischenzeugnis and Zeugnis in the same meeting as she hands me my dismissal. I'm in two minds as wheither to do this then, as it may be too agressive - on the other hand it may be enough for them to decide not to screw me around.

My dismissal letter will be the first thing I will need to deal with though. While I believe it will not give any negative reason for dismissal, it may do so and may cite the aforementioned blame. Do I have to accept this as a valid reason? Can I request that this reason be omitted or amended? Does it make any difference to my references that I have accepted a letter citing incompetence, blame, whatever?

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Old 27.05.2009, 12:04
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Sorry to hear about that, Aeneas. Commiserations.

However, I have no idea what those german terms mean, so I can't help either way...
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Old 27.05.2009, 12:13
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

You are normally given your reference letter (Zeugnis) and interim reference (Zwischenzeugnis) to read and approve.

If they write it in German, make sure you give it to someone well versed in that kind of thing because sometimes seemingly benign statements can carry a deeper meaning and you need to edit those and get your HR department to re-write them.

Not sure what rights you have regarding the letter of dismissal.

Hope it doesn't come to that, though!
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Old 27.05.2009, 12:21
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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Sorry to hear about that, Aeneas. Commiserations.
Go raibh maith agat. TBH, I'm relieved that it'll happen as it really have been frustrating being hired for one job and then not being allowed to do it. I've passively been looking for another position for a few months and almost landed one in March until I was told that they would have hired me except I really needed Swiss German for the job...
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However, I have no idea what those german terms mean, so I can't help either way...
The Zwischenzeugnis and Zeugnis are the interm and final references, in my understanding. The latter is what anglophones would be more familiar with as a (final) reference. The former technically can be sought while still employed and would be of use to me while searching for a job during my notice period.

If I'm wrong with any of the above, someone please correct me
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Old 27.05.2009, 12:26
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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The Zwischenzeugnis and Zeugnis are the interm and final references, in my understanding. The latter is what anglophones would be more familiar with as a (final) reference. The former technically can be sought while still employed and would be of use to me while searching for a job during my notice period.

If I'm wrong with any of the above, someone please correct me
Just to add that you can ask for an interim reference at any time if you feel it necessary. In my last job I asked for one when my line manager left as I wasn't sure what kind of person would replace them (as it turned out it was someone just as lovely but it could have been a complete knob).

Also, if you change jobs/duties within the same company it is sometimes worth getting an interim reference as back up for what you did up until then.
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Old 27.05.2009, 12:28
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Sorry to hear about you problems. In my experience, you often have a quite good bargening position when you are being dismissed. They usually don't want to make matters worse. As you are prepared, I would try to use this to your advantage and make sure you negotiate the best possible severance package. You may also want to write a suggestion for a reference letter and give it to them. That way your are more likely to get it the way you want it.

Good luck!
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Old 27.05.2009, 16:03
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Be prepared...

In some cases the dismissal is without notice (fristlos) and you don't even get a chance to say ciao to your co-workers.

So if there is anything you need to take with you - get it ready today.

Good luck!
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Old 27.05.2009, 16:12
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

I don't think it's going to be a garden leave scenario (unfortunately) as if I walked out the door, or fell under a tram, without a handover they would be utterly screwed. And I'm very prepared.

So does anyone know what the story is with the dismissal letter and the importance of its contents?
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Old 27.05.2009, 17:40
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

The dismissal letter is mainly important for your unemployment benefits. If it is clearly stated that they release you, you will have less problems than if it states "in gegenseitigem Einvernehmen" e.g.
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Old 27.05.2009, 17:50
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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The dismissal letter is mainly important for your unemployment benefits. If it is clearly stated that they release you, you will have less problems than if it states "in gegenseitigem Einvernehmen" e.g.
How would this cause less problems?

If a negative reason is stated in the letter and I accept it, does this affect my references?
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Old 27.05.2009, 20:23
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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How would this cause less problems?

If a negative reason is stated in the letter and I accept it, does this affect my references?
You should make every effort to get a favorable and accurate final testimonial. It can make a difference, when searching a new job, in these difficult times.
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Old 27.05.2009, 20:31
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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How would this cause less problems?

If a negative reason is stated in the letter and I accept it, does this affect my references?
  • The dismissal letter states that your employment terminates on a particular date. Usually, does not cast blame, unless dismissal was done without notice "fristlos" because of grave breach of rules, e.g. fraud. You fear getting the dismissal letter tomorrow.
  • The testimonial "Zeugnis" you get later. It describes your duties, tasks, achievements and qualifies your performance. Future employers would assess you partly based on the prior employer's testimonial.
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Old 27.05.2009, 20:46
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

As others have said, the Zeugnis is the one you really need to watch out for. It's often written in a kind of coded language where what is actually meant is read between the lines. Here's a link whith phrases and what they actually mean. http://www.rhetorik.ch/Zeugnis/Zeugnis.html
Sometimes HR will write a proper reference letter and state at the bottom that it's not written in code. I only just came back to Switz, so really don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Asking for a Zwischenzeugnis when there wasn't a change in management or duties etc is kind of like saying you're not really happy with your job and are possibly looking around. Meaning sometimes you can use requesting one to negotiate yourself a better deal.

Good luck for tomorrow!
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Old 27.05.2009, 20:58
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

I understand the distinction and nature of both the Zwischenzeugnis and Zeugnis. It's the letter of dismissal that I'm more fuzzy on.

As I said, suspect that I've been used as a scapegoat (but certainly not in terms of fraud) and while ultimately I'm only concerned about the Zeugnis in the long term, I don't want to find myself in a situation whereby I get a crap one and then told "but you accepted this 'fact' when you accepted the letter of dismissal". And then things would get very messy and legal indeed - fortunately the evidence is on my side, but this still better avoided.

I'm probably being paranoid, but I tend to approach these things in a pretty anally retentive and meticulous
way - expect the worst and hope for the best.
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Old 27.05.2009, 21:06
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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I understand the distinction and nature of both the Zwischenzeugnis and Zeugnis. It's the letter of dismissal that I'm more fuzzy on.

As I said, suspect that I've been used as a scapegoat (but certainly not in terms of fraud) and while ultimately I'm only concerned about the Zeugnis in the long term, I don't want to find myself in a situation whereby I get a crap one and then told "but you accepted this 'fact' when you accepted the letter of dismissal". And then things would get very messy and legal indeed - fortunately the evidence is on my side, but this still better avoided.

I'm probably being paranoid, but I tend to approach these things in a pretty anally retentive and meticulous
way - expect the worst and hope for the best.
If they are giving you notice based on contract/law, then there would be no blame statements in the dismissal letter. If they ask you for an acknowledgment, then write "received but do nor agree on statements made". The German phrase is "Erhalten mit Vorbehalt" but you can formulate your reservations in English.
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Old 27.05.2009, 21:08
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Here are two very good threads on this subject:

Reference letters [Zeugnis ] - Q&A thread

I think I am about to lose my job...
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Old 27.05.2009, 23:08
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Thanks Goldtop, exactly the information I needed to know.

Thanks also evilshell, but as I said earlier I've actually already trawled through the forum and have actually already read those threads.

Anyhow, off to bed.
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Old 29.05.2009, 14:53
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Well the deed is done. It was all quite friendly and I even get to write my own reference, so I was obviously worried about nothing. Still have to serve out my notices though (I was hoping vainly for garden leave).

Thanks to all for their advice.
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Old 29.05.2009, 20:00
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

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Well the deed is done. It was all quite friendly and I even get to write my own reference, so I was obviously worried about nothing. Still have to serve out my notices though (I was hoping vainly for garden leave).

Thanks to all for their advice.
I'm sorry to hear that it came to this. Make sure to give yourself time time to come to terms with it all...even if friendly, it still will be difficult at times.
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Old 29.05.2009, 22:02
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Re: Getting canned tomorrow!

Aeneas, you have a right to your intermediate certificate within 2 weeks of your request. As you mentioned above, they still need you, which is why they want you to stay until the end of your contract.


Last edited by Sky; 31.05.2009 at 19:05.
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