During the employment relationship and even after the termination of the employment contract, the employee is required to fulfill certain obligations to his employer. If he/she does not respect these duties, he/she may be held liable.
Fake medical certificate
In order to get a few days off, an employee steals a medical certificate from his doctor or falsifies it. An employee who engages in such behavior is liable. He/she can be punished by his/her employer and by the criminal authorities.
When the situation with the employer becomes tense and the discussions get bogged down, employees sometimes go on strike. In Switzerland, a strike is subject to certain conditions. If these conditions are not respected, the employer can take the necessary sanctions against the strikers. The strikers must compensate the employer for the damage caused by the strike.
The duty of care and loyalty, enshrined in the Swiss Code of Obligations, requires the employee to refrain from any behavior that could harm the employer's interests. This obligation is also enforceable regarding social networks.
The employee is liable if he/she damages the image or reputation of his/her employer by his/her comments on social networks. This can be the case when he/she criticizes his/her employer in a virulent manner or questions the quality of the products sold by the company.
Recording in the workplace
Whether it is to sell the plans of a prototype to a competitor or to record an evaluation interview, the employee is tempted to record his interlocutors or documents in his workplace.
This behavior violates the employee's duties of care, loyalty and confidentiality. It may also constitute a criminal offence. The employee risks a lot.
When looking at video surveillance or electronic surveillance recordings, the employer is sometimes in for a nasty surprise. The employer may catch the employee surfing on illegal or pornographic websites or stealing. The employee is liable, as long as the surveillance set up by the employer is legal and respects the requirements set by the Federal Data Protection Commissioner. For this purpose, the employer must have established a regulation that sets out the monitoring procedure.
The employee is obliged to maintain absolute secrecy regarding all confidential data of his employer. He violates his duty of confidentiality when he publishes information on LinkedIn about the company's financial situation or shows a picture of a prototype to his relatives.
This obligation of confidentiality continues after the end of the employment relationship.
Sexual harassment and mobbing
The employer is obliged to take adequate measures to prevent and put an end to situations of sexual harassment and mobbing within the company. The employee, for his/her part, must follow the instructions given by the employer.
He/she must refrain from any behavior that could constitute sexual or psychological harassment towards his/her colleagues or subordinates, in the company or on social networks. Failure to do so may result in dismissal and civil or criminal liability.
Abandonment of post
Abandonment of post occurs when the employee leaves his/her workstation and refuses to continue working, without valid reasons. In such a situation, the employer may ask for compensation from the employee. But be careful! A simple unjustified absence from work does not allow the employer to consider that the employee has abandoned his or her job, especially if there are conflicts between the employee and the employer or if the absence follows a period of illness or vacation.
Companies often lend laptops, smartphones or company cars to their employees. In case of damage, loss or theft of this rather expensive equipment, the employee may be held liable in case of fault on his/her part. The same applies if the employee commits offences while driving a company vehicle.
When an employee knows in detail the company's customer lists, business or manufacturing secrets, the employer has a definite interest in ensuring that the employee does not go to work for a competitor after the end of the employment relationship. Under certain conditions, the employer can put in place a non-competition clause that will prevent the employee from competing with the employer after the end of the employment relationship.
If the employee violates the non-competition clause, he or she is liable. Payment of a contractual penalty, compensation for the damage caused to the employer or even cessation of the competing activity: the possible sanctions are various but subject to restrictive conditions.