Paternity leave initiative in Swiss parliament’s hands
Supporters of a popular initiative to give fathers four weeks paternity leave were jubilant yesterday as they lodged the initiative with parliament.
The initiative ‘For a reasonable paternity leave – in favour of all the family’ was launched a year ago by four organizations: labour group Travail Suisse, feminist umbrella organization Alliance F, men's group männer.ch and Pro Familia Suisse.
It calls for fathers in Switzerland to get 20 days statutory paternity leave to take in a flexible manner within the first year of their baby's life, financed through the same system of deductions used to fund maternity leave.
By early June it had gathered well over the 100,000 necessary signatures, six months within the deadline imposed under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.
It’s now up to the Swiss parliament to discuss the issue and announce its position prior to an eventual referendum.
While the initiative clearly has a wave of support among the Swiss public, it is likely to be less well received in parliament.
Though several MPs support the initiative, parliament’s record on the issue is not favourable. In the past few years it has rejected calls to legislate on paternity leave over 30 times.
However even if parliament opposes this popular initiative, the public will have the final say. If accepted at referendum, paternity leave will be introduced within three years.
Switzerland currently has no statutory paternity leave, with most fathers only allowed to take one ‘family day' of leave upon the birth of their child.
Mothers are granted 14 weeks maternity leave.