Tall Mountain

Negotiating Swiss Labor Contract

Challenge:

When working in an overseas country, it will often be necessary to sign a formal labor agreement. This will be more than just a standard boilerplate agreement with many different unique clauses. In the case of Switzerland, it is required by law that the contract be in one of the official languages, in this case German.

In the case in question, the American we were helping was taking a position in Canton Schaffhausen in Switzerland near the German-Swiss border. This individual had been a liaison for nearly 25 years for an American company that had been doing business with this Swiss company. As such, the American knew all the players in the Swiss company, and they were very interested in having him come work for them.

 

Action:

The company sent the individual a proposed labor contract (in German), which he then passed on to us for our opinion. After reviewing the contract, we identified 10 items that we believed needed to be changed. Communication with the company resulted in 9 of the 10 being changed, and they were willing to discuss the 10th item.

Things continued on for a couple of months, while the Swiss company looked into the possibility of obtaining a work visa for the American. They then contacted him and they agreed that things were serious enough that they needed a formal meeting in Switzerland.

We were present at the meeting and assisted the individual with the negotiations. The verbal negotiations were in English, but the contract and the changes that were negotiated were in German. As the negotiations wore on, changes agreed to were made to the document on the spot. Sometimes, we had to engage in German legal wordsmithing in order to get the meaning exactly right. Upon our final review of the contract and recommendation, the individual signed the contract.

 

Result:

The individual worked for this company for 6 years until retirement.