Swiss government rejects plans for statutory paternity leave

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Swiss government rejects plans for statutory paternity leave
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The Swiss government has come out against a popular initiative calling for fathers in the country to be given four weeks statutory paternity leave.


In a position statement released on Thursday, the executive also rejected a separate parliamentary initiative that would see fathers of newborn children given two weeks leave.

Currently, fathers get no statutory leave at all in Switzerland when their children are born although many can take a "family day". Mothers get 14 weeks leave at 80 percent pay.

Read also: Opinion - the benefits of raising children in Switzerland

Pressure has been building in recent years for statutory leave for fathers to be introduced in Switzerland, but the government on Thursday chose to put its family policy priorities elsewhere.

It said that it a package consisting of both a greater range of childcare options and increased carer leave for the parents of seriously ill children would offer better value for money than paternity leave.

The government estimates that costs for two weeks paternity leave would come in at 230 million francs a year. By contrast, the costs for increased carer leave are predicted to be 74 million francs annually.

Companies should decide, not lawmakers

In its position statement of Thursday, the Swiss government also argued that paternity leave should be decided at the company level or in collective bargaining agreements. It argued this model is more flexible than statutory leave for fathers, which would place an undue burden on businesses.

The upper house of the Swiss parliament is expected to debate both the popular initiative calling for four weeks paternity leave and the two-week parliamentary leave proposal in the summer.

Meanwhile, some companies in Switzerland are already taking the lead by voluntarily offering staff generous parental leave – partly as a means of attracting top talent.

In March, pharmaceutical firm Novartis announced it would offer all staff 14 weeks parental leave and this month Volvo Switzerland upped the ante saying its employees would get six months at 80 percent pay.

Read also: Swiss fathers increasingly likely to work part time


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