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No parental leave for Swiss military fathers

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No parental leave for Swiss military fathers
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
11:48 CEST+02:00
While new fathers across Switzerland can look forward to benefit from the new paternal leave allowances the government is set to introduce, men completing their compulsory military service will have no such luck.

The Swiss military has indicated it will not be adopting the policy, meaning that those completing their compulsory service will not be given leeway to return should their partners give birth. The only exception is where the pregnancy could be described as ‘high risk'. 

Military service is proscribed under the Swiss constitution for men only. The proposed Swiss ordinance would only apply to regular employment, not constitutionally-proscribed military service. 

Recruits are required to complete 18 weeks of military boot camp once they reach the age of 18.

They must then complete several weeks in the army per year until they have completed a minimum of 245 days of military service. 

A referendum held in 2013 on whether to keep compulsory military service in Switzerland attracted a majority of support. 

In recent years, the civilian service option has become more popular, with military authorities concerned about dwindling numbers. 

READ: The Swiss army's growing problem with military service 

The military has hit back, saying that while the parental leave plan will not be implemented, there are a range of other options for expecting fathers to see their children. 

A spokesman for the military, Daniel Reist, told Swiss newspaper Watson that while the military was aware that compulsory service “can cause inconvenience”, the army was sensitive to the needs of families. 

Reist said that fathers could apply for leave ahead of time, although this would need to be approved by their responsible officer. 

"A father-to-be can apply for personal leave for the birth date, which few commanders would deny, provided that the military achievements of the person applying for military service and the service company permit this,” he said. 

"The army has not closed its eyes to the modern division of roles within the family.”

According to the military's internal rules for postponement, an order can be made where the "private interest of the applicant outweighs the public interest in the performance of the (compulsory service)”.




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