Swiss firm’s job ad: ‘Wanted – uncomplicated woman without small kids’

A Zurich firm is under fire for posting a job ad for "an uncomplicated woman aged 35 to 50 and without small children" to work night shifts in the company office.

Swiss firm's job ad: 'Wanted - uncomplicated woman without small kids'
File photo: Depositphotos

The part-time administrative position with Zurich-based food wholesaler Ernst Welti AG involves shifts staring at 9pm and might not seem the most appealing position for a mother with small children.

But for Corinne Schärer, a board member with Swiss union Unia, the advertisement for the position is simply “not on”.

The ad promotes the idea that having small children in the workplace is a problem,” she told The Local on Friday.

Read also: The pros and cons of working Switzerland

“It also shows a very conservative image of women and their place in the workforce for this day and age,” she added.

Schärer stressed the job post was almost certainly discriminatory under the Federal Act on Gender Equality.

That legislation prohibits companies discriminating against employees on the basis of their sex or family situation. It means, for example, that candidates do not have to ask questions about their family life or whether they plan to have children during a job interview.

Meanwhile, the firm behind the ad explained to Swiss news site 20 Minuten that the wording had been chosen because mothers of young children tend to be absent more often because either they are ill or their children are sick.

Ernst Welti sales manager André Marquart said the night shift team was made up of just three people and that things were stressful if someone was absent.

“We have nothing against the mothers of young children,” Marquart said.

“But they tend to stay home [if their child is sick], which is completely understandable.”

For Schärer, though, the ad is further proof that Switzerland has a long way to go on gender equality in the workplace. She noted the relatively short maternity leave available to women – mothers are granted 14 weeks – and the fact that childcare is very expensive.

Read also: Swiss women continue to share the burden of unpaid work


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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier