Saturday, October 11, 2008

You're Fired!

Donald Trump would never have as much fun in Switzerland. Sure, he could still fire people. But he wouldn't have the satisfaction of sending them away that very minute, because legally, they'd still be around, working for him another three to six months.

When I told one of my Swiss colleagues how, if you're fired in America, you are sent packing that very minute, he looked at me wide eyed and in disbelief. Here, the laws protect workers much better than in the United States. If you're fired, you still keep working and collecting a paycheck for an additional three to six months (sometimes up to a year), depending on your contract.

As an employee, this is great, I guess, to know I have this protection. But most people that are fired or quit (which also requires you to stick around three months after you officially say, "I quit") tend, not surprisingly, not to be so motivated after that. They call in sick, they get mysterious back pain, they get "krank geschrieben" (or doctor's notes that say they don't have to work for weeks at a time). Or they just don't show up. And really, who can blame them.

Still, it creates havoc on the workers that haven't quit or haven't been fired, because they have to do all the work of the others (ah hem, sometimes work that isn't in their language). And that is one thing that is very wrong with the system, not to mention someone that's fired with full access to company info could really do something bad (but obviously they aren't so paranoid about things like that on this side on the pond).

Anyhow, it all combines to make a very interesting work environment. That's why, when I had lunch this week with a woman from my agency's Detroit office, and she wanted to know if it was much different working here, I couldn't say anything but "You have no idea."

5 comments:

Traveler For Good said...

That would drive me crazy! The US doesn't use work contracts, and even if we do, there is usually a clause of "not for a fixed term" that allows the employer or the employee to end employment if it doesn't work. If someone doesn't want to be there, let them go. If we don't want them there because of performance "good luck to you in the future." On the ballot in Colorado this fall is making us a Right to Work State (like all our neighbors). Working in HR and I guess being "pro-employer" this is the way to go!

Swiss Miss said...

I can see why HR people would be for this. :)
Although I think I am as well because the Swiss 3-month thing makes it hard to get a new job as well, because employers don't want to hire you if you can't start right away.

My Life In Montreal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kempeth said...

Regarding, creating havoc by now showing up. Wouldn't you have the exact same situation if they had to go on the spot?

And concerning potential abuse of access, there is the practice of Freistellung (I love the english term for it: Garden leave) where the employer says, we still have to pay you for three months but we don't want to see you here anymore.

And for particularly hard cases there are options for immediate termination. I've only seen this happen once in my working life so far but it was when a coworker started threatening others.

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