In order to reduce the negative economic impact of the coronavirus, the Swiss government has put in place a variety of measures targeted at stimulating the economy.
One such measure is the compensation payments made available to parents who have lost income while caring for their children who are no longer in school as a result of the virus.
Who is eligible for compensation?
For parents of children under 12, the compensation is available for anyone who has “to stop working because the child's childcare is no longer guaranteed”.
Eligible applicants must be compulsorily insured to the AVS/AHV (Swiss social security insurance) and they must be employed or in self-employment.
The need to take care of their children must be due to measures put in place due to the coronavirus.
This includes closures of schools and kindergartens, while it also covers situations where the care was usually provided by a person in a high-risk category – i.e. someone over the age of 65 or with a pre-existing medical condition.
If childcare is still possible – for instance through a spouse or if the usual childcare facility remains open – no compensation is available.
How much is available?
The compensation is for lost income due to the virus. The compensation will be for 80 percent of usual income, up to a maximum of CHF196 per day.
Although both full and part-time workers can apply, the amount of this income must be “decisive”.
This term is not defined, but the guidance says that if a person normally works three days per week and now missed two days due to caring for their child, they are entitled to compensation for those two days.
The loss of earnings must be documented, for instance through a written letter from an employer.
What about school holidays?
Compensation will still be available during school holidays if the usual method of childcare is not available.
This means that if the school usually offers holiday childcare but now does not, compensation is available.
More information on the compensation and how to apply is provided in German, French and Italian here.
Why have so few parents applied?
In an interview with Swiss media outlet Le Temps on April 7th, a spokesperson for the Swiss Trade Union Union (USS) said the take-up rate by parents has been “very low”, most likely due to few parents actually knowing about it.
The USS says this is due to the structural inequalities of the labour market, with the parents who need the compensation the most being the ones with the least time to assess their options.