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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Switzerland: Zurich’s Green party pushes for ‘menstrual leave’

Zurich's green party is pushing for women who suffer from menstrual cramps to be given leave from work.

Switzerland: Zurich's Green party pushes for 'menstrual leave'
Zurich authorities will soon decide on the merits of "menstrual leave". Photo: Pixabay

Anyone who suffers from menstrual cramps should be able to be exempted from work in Zurich’s municipal administration for up to five days. This is what the Green deputies on the city council are calling for.

These absences should be with full pay, the party says.

This option should also be open to trans and non-binary people.

Party members are urging city officials to carry out a pilot test for menstrual leave, and the experiment should then be scientifically evaluated.

The City Council will debate the proposal at a forthcoming meeting.

In the past, local elected officials had already demonstrated their willingness to support menstruation-related matters: in March, the Zurich city parliament backed a push for free tampons for schools and public toilets.

In fact, Zurich’s Federal Polytechnic Institute (ETH ) has launched a pilot project  in September 2021 at four locations in Zurich and Basel, where 22 “menstruation stations” have been installed in women’s and in gender-​neutral toilets.

While the move toward the menstrual leave is bold, it is not the first in Europe.

Spain also has a plan to introduce paid “menstrual leave” in the workplace, which is now debated in the parliament.

When can you get a day off work presently?

Swiss law allows employees to take time off with pay in some well-defined circumstances.

They include:

  • A medical appointment
  • A court appearance or similar legal obligation
  • Public duties (working as a member of Parliament, for instance)
  • Your marriage
  • Birth of your child
  • Death of a close relative
  • Moving house
  • Care of a close relative

READ MORE: For what reasons am I allowed to get a day off work in Switzerland?

What if you get sick?

In case of illness, if you are absent for more than three days, you must present a medical certificate mentioning your diagnosis and how many days (or weeks or months) you will be absent from work.

While menstruation is not a valid reason per se to miss work (especially if you are a man), having symptoms that prevent you from performing your job could be.

During this time you will continue to receive your salary for a period of time based on the duration of your employment and whether your company has a sickness benefit insurance for employees.

Generally speaking, if your illness is protracted, your job might not be there waiting for you until you recover — you are protected from dismissal only for a limited period of time, depending on how long you have been employed at a company.

READ MORE: Reader question: Does my Swiss employer have a right to fire me when I’m sick?

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FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Under the tagline ‘money isn’t everything’, a southern German newspaper recently caused a stir by publishing ‘five reasons you shouldn’t move to Switzerland’ for work. What are the five points - and are they accurate?

FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

With one in four Swiss residents foreign, the country clearly has some pulling power. Most of this is based around Switzerland’s strong job market, which has high salaries in a variety of sectors. 

Switzerland boasts some of the highest salaries of anywhere in the world. 

Those in management positions or in sought after professions such as IT and medicine can earn considerable amounts, while other professions which may not be as traditionally high paid like teachers and cleaners also benefit from comparatively high wages. 

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

However, not everything is rosy for foreigners who come to Switzerland to work. 

In mid-July, German newspaper Südkurier ran a report targeted at Germans who may want to work in Switzerland – along with those who have already done so. 

Under the title “Because money isn’t everything: Five reasons not to work in Switzerland”, the newspaper – which is headquartered just over the German border in Konstanz – lays out five reasons why moving to Switzerland for work isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

The article has caused a mild stir in Switzerland, with Swiss tabloid Blick pointing out that some of the claims were inaccurate

While any such list is by its very nature subjective, we’ve listed the five claims and had a go at debunking them (or at least explaining them in more depth). 

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments. 

1: Too much overtime and too few holidays

It’s important to mention that everything is coming from a German perspective, with the paper comparing things in Switzerland to those in Germany. 

While that may not make too much of a difference for some, it will for others – particularly when it comes to the question of overtime and holidays. 

Verdict: The downsides of Zurich you should be aware of before moving

In Switzerland, workers are entitled to a statutory minimum of four weeks off per year. 

While this might seem excellent compared to other countries such as the United States, it is one week fewer than their German counterparts. 

The Südkurier also complained about overtime in Switzerland, where workers are expected to work far over their usual 40-hour work weeks. 

There does seem to be some truth to this – Germans and German employers tend to push for a stronger adherence to the 40-hour week than some Swiss businesses – but this will also depend dramatically on the company. 

Under Swiss law, those who do work overtime however will be entitled to either a 25 percent loading on that time, or to bank those hours for additional leave in future, so be sure to research the specifics of overtime in your work contract. 

Health insurance is far too expensive – particularly for deductibles 

Another major gripe was the way in which Switzerland’s healthcare system operates and how much it costs. 

While the high cost of Swiss health insurance is no secret, what got the German newspaper particularly upset was the way Switzerland handles its deductibles. 

Most German health insurance plans have no deductibles, whereas in Switzerland this can be thousands of francs depending on your plan. 

The Südkurier however implied that the lowest deductible is CHF2,000, which is patently untrue.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?

The level of a deductible will be up to each insured person. 

The minimum deductible in Switzerland is 300 Swiss francs (around €260). The maximum amount is 2,500 francs. The higher your deductible (in other words, the more you pay out of your own pocket) the lower your monthly premium is.

Childcare is also too pricey

Another sticking point was Switzerland’s high childcare costs, which made it prohibitive for families with two working parents. 

On this point, it is hard to argue. 

The high costs of childcare are a frequent complaint of many a parent in Switzerland. 

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130. 

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent. 

For ways to save – and a number of alternative childcare options – check out the following link. 

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

…and in fact everything is just far too expensive

OK, we knew this one was coming. 

Besides chocolate, cheese and banks full of other people’s money, Switzerland is perhaps best known for being expensive. 

The country is especially pricey when it comes to food, beverages, hotels, housing, restaurants, clothing, and health insurance – or pretty much everything you need. 

Keep in mind however that while Switzerland is expensive for its residents, for people coming from abroad, high costs here are the ultimate culture shock.

If you work in Switzerland, you will earn significantly higher wages than most other countries – which somewhat offsets the cost of living. 

Also, many of the best things about Switzerland are actually free – from clean air and high levels of safety to the wonderful scenery and the amazing network of public footpaths that allow you to explore the county at a walking pace.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Learning Swiss German is essential but useless elsewhere 

On the final point, the Südkurier went all in on Swiss German, saying the language was necessary to navigate some parts of Swiss society but that it was completely useless elsewhere.

“It’s a language that won’t help you anywhere else in the world. You can’t use it to communicate in East Asia or South America, and it often doesn’t even help you in other parts of Switzerland” the author wrote. 

While it is true that Swiss German is unlikely to be too helpful anywhere else in the world, the topic of Swiss German versus High German is particularly controversial, especially among Germans who have moved to Switzerland. 

The Local have been told by our German readers that the Swiss will often switch to English rather than speak High German, due to a combination of not being able to and simply not wanting to. 

While where you live will be crucial on whether you should speak Swiss German or not, learning at least some basics in the local dialect is essential for anyone regardless of where you move to. 

READ MORE: 15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

Are these accurate? Or are they not? Let us know in the comments below. 

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