Switzerland's Federal Commission for the Coordination of Family Affairs (COFF) has welcomed the government's current debate on whether a statutory two-week paternity leave should be introduced for fathers. But COFF argues that the minimum should be four weeks and suggests eight weeks would in fact be beneficial to the family structure and the economy.
Switzerland currently only has a statutory 14-week maternity leave, but nothing for fathers.
COFF's president, Anja Wyden Guelpa, notes that in more than 50 per cent of OECD countries parents receive a combined average of 43 weeks of paternity leave.
“In the eyes of the COFF, neither 4 nor 2 weeks are sufficient leave to engender greater and more concrete long-term commitment of fathers in the care of children, a crucial factor in promoting the equality of opportunities and the professional integration of mothers,” wrote Guelpa.
The commission nevertheless supports the two-week period under debate, and proposed by a popular initiative with more than 18,000 signatures, as an “extremely modest step” that would improve the situation of families.
COFF had already in August 2018 proposed extending the period of parental leave for parents to 38 weeks. The Commission reiterated in a paper published on February 5th, based on 140 studies conducted between 2010 and 2017, that an extended period of legal parental leave would have a positive impact on the economy. Eight of the 38 weeks would be ring-fenced for paternity leave.
“The analysis of the studies reviewed reinforced the Commission's conviction that Switzerland and its citizens could draw advantages from introducing legal parental leave,” states the document. “Parental leave would be beneficial for parents and their children, but also for the economy and society in general, by improving framework conditions for the large percentage of qualified women who would like children,” it adds.
The Swiss government last summer recommended that parliament reject the proposal, arguing it would place too great a burden on the economy and present companies with organizational challenges. Various factions are proposing different periods of parental leave from
The Commission argues that while the substantial costs – between 1 and 1.5 billion francs – of such a policy would be offset by fiscal revenues from mothers re-entering the workplace after maternity cover, which the commission estimates would increase the female workforce by 1 per cent.
In April 2016, the Swiss parliament narrowly quashed a motion, by 97 votes to 90, for a two-week statutory paternity leave.