Pregnant women and those on maternity leave are protected from dismissal by Swiss law, however on their return to work they are subject to the same company rules as everyone else.
According to Le Matin Dimanche, certain employers, wary of a perceived lack of efficiency and motivation among new mothers, are firing some women the very day they return to work.
While the paper says the action is entirely legal, according to Swiss law the employer must prove that the dismissal has nothing to do with the employee’s pregnancy, the birth of her child or her right to breastfeed.
Audrey Schmid of workers’ union Unia said she sees a case like this at least once a month.
“They fire the women on the first day, without any prior indication they were intending to do so,” she told the paper.
Such cases are usually not linked to any request from the employee to reduce her hours, she added.
The situation is absurd, said Valerie Borioli Sandoz of workers’ organization Travail Suisse.
“The employer loses an experienced employee who is good at her job and must bear the costs of replacing her,” she told the paper.
Sylvie Durrer of the federal office for gender equality told Le Matin Dimanche that there are no reliable figures on how many women are losing their jobs in this way.
“But the number of cases will surely rise, given that more and more mothers want to remain active after giving birth.”
New mothers in Switzerland are entitled to 14 weeks maternity leave.
As for fathers, there is no right to paternity leave but companies must grant employees time off for family events, meaning most new dads can request one or two days following the birth of their child.
A report by Travail Suisse last year found that 52 percent of workers took just one day off, with only three percent of male workers granted more than ten days paternity leave by their company.