Consequences of prolonged medical leave

Hello good people,

Need to ask some of you for advice…

Has anyone ever dealt with - or knows first-hand the dynamics of - managing insurance, employer, income, eventually even RAV, etc. when medical issues would cause prolonged absence from the workforce?

You can PM me if sensitive of course, thank you in advance!

Hi Lowyield,

I work in the field so i might help you. Can you please share some details of your situation?

  • Work-Contract
  • What type of medical issues
  • Are you working right now? If not, since when?
  • Salaryrange
  • etc.

I’m also wondering about this, thanks for asking.

It is a huge topic, do you have any specific questions ? (genuinely trying to be helpful)

A few, thanks for pitching in :slight_smile:

I’ll start with the privacy aspect which is perhaps the one where I have most doubts:
What information and how much information about your medical condition is shared?
With the employer, for example. But also with your health insurance, the employer allowance insurance, does the RAV have details if you get laid off, etc.

How is an employee protected against discrimination, in case the information is not private (mostly applies vs. the employer, I guess)?

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Maybe it’s time to ask your legal insurance these questions?

That’s a fair observation @Dr.PI, although prevention is better than the cure, I’m not sure if they deal in hypotheticals?

EDIT: meaning, I am not sure where to find this information but I hope it doesn’t require a lawyer, which would rather be the case if discrimination already occurred.

If there is a medical certificate I don’t think the employer is allowed to query what the medical condition is. However in every case I have been aware of they have a good idea. If it is something physical like cancer usually the employee feels ok to disclose it to the line manager or HR. If it is a mental health issue like stress / burn-out /depression, if the absence is prolonged I’m afraid it might be assumed (not saying that is how it should be, just how it works in practise)

First of all if you’re officially sick your current employer can’t lay you off for upto 180 days (see art. 336c para. 1 lit. b Code of Obligations). If the sickness is something permanent (e.g. chronic depression, loss of a leg) one might even end up getting disability payments (IV). If the medical details are ultimately shared with the RAV or previous/future employer I don’t know.

Legal consultation is a very reasonable step from my point of view, so I would definitely do it.

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If things are getting serious (regarding health and/or employment), i’d recommend consulting respective professionals…

Just as you would not rely on medical diagnoses from random people of the internet, you should handle their “legal advise” with care…

It is usually imprecise at best:

(->check art. 336c para. 1 lit. b Code of Obligations).

In other cases it might even be blantantly wrong.

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Thanks all so far

Sometimes, or at least that is my experience. And confidentiality in all matters of human life is of course difficult to achieve.
Most importantly they want to know when and how will the employee be able to return / resume working, and whether he should be replaced (in both cases the sooner the better).
While duration is often a telltale, there may be instances in which one’s diagnosis is better kept private (e.g. stigmatized diseases, complicated abortion, obvious causes leading up to the illness itself, etc.) - especially for individuals in certain positions where it may affect their ability to relation with others.

Thanks for editing per @JLaw’s feedback, this is actually also in the employment contract oftentimes. The Krankentaggeld regulates the allowance and, if existing, may cover beyond this period.

It is indeed, I’ll pursue that avenue if needed, thanks.

Golden words, and most of us are also professionals in our respective fields, so we appreciate expertise.
The people of the internet however have a certain practical wisdom (and experience) that is useful to get to know in which direction start looking.
In fact I was hoping on first-hand experiences or PMs, and some members did such in a helpful way.

I think it is fruitful to continue this public discourse as well.

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Could you share what you’ve learnt from
PMs? I don’t mean on a personal level but rather info about the topic of that thread as if it was in a PM the rest of us can’t see it although it would be valuable info.

Dears,

I’m writing back late, after a few months of hiatus from the world, it was not an easy period to navigate but I see light at the end of the tunnel (and I shouldn’t complain, given the international situation).

First of all, I want to thank all of the ones who gave advice in this thread and separately, you guys rock and that’s what makes this community a rare joy. :heart:

Like @boschika suggested, I’m glad to share a few points from this experience with you in case it helps anyone else out there. Long post but feel free of course to ask or PM for more.

To start, the issue of discrimination. There is a certain amount of it, varies by company and also within companies and it certainly makes difficult to advance your career in case you return to work as you are perceived as a risk within the company and there is stigma that goes with it.
I don’t have a recommendation for that other than perhaps transfer to a different department / unit after coming back to work. Many big companies have internal channels to prevent discrimination but they are not effective in my experience. Maybe I did not have the best employer too.

The second point I can share some insights into, leading to the first, is the privacy aspect. Again from my experience so YMMV.
When you receive a medical leave you are sending the paper to your employer, you have to ask your doctor to not indicate the reason but only the duration and %, but it’s easy to google the doctor’s name and practice so the point is a bit moot.
For a prolonged period of time, definition of “prolonged” may depend on the HR policy - in my case >1 month, you are passed to an insurance company that takes over the case and covers for your salary. The coverage may be less than 100% depending again on the agreement between employer and insurer (should be indicated in the HR policy).
The insurance will definitely ask you for the medical reason and as well you have to sign an agreement that they can inquiry at the hospital or doctor or others about your case. Will this information be shared with your employer? In theory not, but in practice I’ve seen that the document workflow at least in the beginning is open for the HR to read, so… again not much privacy.

Two alternative avenues that come to mind, in case medical diagnosis is not forthcoming or for any reason undesirable are:

  1. Sabbatical, if the company offers the option, which is usually constrained by duration and comes without salary of course but also additional expenses in term of own accident insurance coverage and Pillar 2 contributions (worth to check with your employer if any better terms).

  2. Unemployment, by own decision, which means dealing with the RAV and while I’ve heard mixed feedback it usually results with some form of compensation after a few months. Probably this point merits its own thread if not already existing.

All in all there are protections, for example as others mention you cannot be fired during medical leave for a good amount of time (proportional to your tenure) but the final outcome upon return is driven mainly by the organization’s culture and your department subculture, and it may have lasting impact.

Hope this helps!

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To add on the above, regarding quitting and dealing with the RAV.

My last workplace was very toxic. Management would be fired and replaced every 6–9 months, turnover on the team was crazy (one guy even quit 1.5 months into his probation period, he just “didn’t want to become like the rest of us”). Anyway, you get the picture, it was a shitshow.

I reached my breaking point and quit.

The RAV has been very nice and helpful so far. The normal elimination period is 2–3 months from what I hear when you quit. But my doctor filled a form for the RAV explaining how I had to quit to maintain my sanity and that this workplace was toxic.

The RAV accepted it and only gave me the standard 15 working days unpaid (like for someone who would get laid off). Now I have to show I’ve applied to 8 jobs a month and comply with whatever the RAV asks me (attend language classes, interview training, whatever). And I’m getting 70% of my previous salary but because they withhold less tax somehow, my net is more like 85% of my previous salary.

It’s technically not allowed to use the employment insurance to heal yourself from a shitty job but it seems like a grey area where they don’t ask and you don’t tell.

I don’t know how micromanaging they become over time, I’m guessing the longer your claiming the more scrutiny you get. It does give a nice space to experiment though because if you take a new job, don’t like it, and quit during your probation, you’re back on employment insurance the next day without waiting again (claims have a two years window).

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That’s only applicable if you were working for 2 years in Switzerland before. The duration the RAV/ALK is paying is proportional up to 2 years of regular employment before.

You have to work 12 months in a period of time of 24 months in order to be eligible to the unemployment insurance for 400 business days (~2 years).

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Another imprecise piece of advice. (-> check art. 27 para. 2 AVIG).

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This law will never ceased to amazed me in the wrong way…

So my bad for this imprecise piece of advice…

Yes the number of paid days you get depends on how long you worked before (and other things)

But the claim window to use up your days is two years. This includes losing or quitting your job. If it’s within these two years, your claim „just resumes“ until the window closes or you run out of paid days (whichever comes first)

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