The decision means that a number of quotas are to be set and implemented in the next legislative period, running from 2012 to 2015. By the end of that time, between 44 and 48 percent of Swiss government employees are to be women.
There will be lower female quotas for the military and border police, areas where far fewer women work at the moment. Not including these areas, Swiss public service was made up of 42.1 percent women in 2010 – including the military and border control, the figure was only 31.7 percent.
The government is now aiming to introduce a female quota of 11 to 12 percent in the military and 8.5 to 10.5 in the border police.
To make the transition easier, the quotas will also be distinguished by salary bracket in proportion to the current male – female ratio. For instance, the female quota will be 29 to 34 percent in the salary bracket from 143,000 to 182,000 francs a year (€118,000 - €150,000). But in the top civil service bracket of 195,000 to 366,000 francs, the quota will only be 16 to 20 percent women.
The government is also aiming to incrementally reduce the number of Swiss German speakers in public service, and raise the number of Swiss French and Italian speakers. By 2015, there will be a maximum of 70 percent Swiss Germans in public service (in 2010 it was 72.1 percent), and at least 22 percent Swiss French and 7 percent Swiss Italians.
The government is also making an effort to integrate more disabled people into the job market, by raising the proportion of disabled people in public service from the current 0.7 percent to at least one percent.
Local public authorities will receive financial bonuses if they employ disabled people - the government has set aside 12 million francs for this purpose.