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Pay cuts for teachers allowed due to corona measures

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 30 August 2023

The St. Gallen boarding school Rosenberg does not have to pay the wage cuts made to three teachers during the Corona measures in spring 2020. 

Pay cuts for teachers allowed due to corona measures
Keystone/SDA©

The Federal Supreme Court approved a complaint by the noble boarding school in a public consultation.

The three people affected had already given notice of termination at the beginning of 2020 in August. Because of the Corona measures, the boarding school switched from face-to-face to distance learning. In mid-April 2020, the three employees were informed that their wages would be reduced if they were unable to meet their contractual working hours due to the measures imposed by the authorities.

The employer explained that the three teachers could not be registered for short-time work because they had resigned. The institute added that the consequences of the measures to combat the corona virus did not fall under the entrepreneurial risk to be borne by the employer.

However, the St. Gallen judiciary agreed with the three teachers and obliged the boarding school to pay them the outstanding amounts. Two people are around 3500 francs each, the third around 6400 francs.

In a public deliberation on Wednesday, the federal court upheld the boarding school’s appeal with a majority of four judges to one judge. The speaker referred to the relevant case law. An employer is released from his obligations if these are unreasonable for him. Such a situation is particularly evident in the case of war-related unrest.

consequences of a closure

“If an authority decides to close companies, they have to ask themselves what the financial consequences will be and who will pay for it,” the judge said. His colleague then maintained that the Federal Council ordinances provided for short-time work compensation.

This fact shows that the government considered that the situation no longer fell under business risk. “Unfortunately, the three teachers concerned fell through the holes in the net.”

In general, the majority came to the conclusion that in the event of an officially ordered company closure to combat the corona virus, employers are not obliged to pay their employees’ wages if the short-time work compensation does not cover the loss of wages.

President for dismissal

Only the department president was in favor of dismissing the complaint. She felt it was difficult to distinguish between a corporate or economic risk and a much broader crisis situation.

“Even though there was a lot of uncertainty, the time of the pandemic cannot be compared to a war situation. In the end, order prevailed.” Some would have suffered, others would have benefited from the crisis and still others would have lost everything and closed.

The decision of the St. Gallen cantonal court is thus overturned. The case is referred back to this one. It must examine whether 100 percent online teaching was possible and whether the lesson cuts could have been avoided. 

Keystone/SDA©

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