Government comes out against paternity leave proposal

Hopes that new fathers could in future be granted four weeks’ paternity leave have been dealt a blow by the federal government.

Government comes out against paternity leave proposal
File photo:kzenia/Depositphotos

The Federal Council issued a recommendation to parliament that it reject the initiative ‘For a reasonable paternity leave – in favour of all the family’ when it comes up for debate, Blick reported.

The initiative calls for fathers in Switzerland to get 20 days’ statutory paternity leave to take within the first year of their baby's life, financed through the same system of deductions used to fund maternity leave.

It was launched by four organizations: labour group Travail Suisse, feminist umbrella organization Alliance F, men's group mä and Pro Familia Suisse and submitted to parliament last year after gaining the 100,000 signatures required.

The government said on Friday the initiative would place too great a burden on the economy and present companies with organizational challenges.

A decision on granting paternal leave should continue to be the employer’s responsibility, the Federal Council said.

While recognizing the need for paternity leave, it said expanding childcare provision was the government’s priority.

The initiative is likely to have a rough ride in parliament given that more moderate proposals have failed to win its support in the past, Blick said.

In the past few years parliament has rejected calls to legislate on paternity leave over 30 times. 

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.