Co-funded by the European Union

A Swiss referendum introduced paternity leave

  • As of 2021, a paternity leave of ten days to be taken within six months after the birth of a child will be introduced.  
  • The Swiss citizens supported the introduction of this measure by 60.3%. 

This will be implemented through a change in the social security system by means of the “loss of earning allowances” system. During paternity leave, the salary will amount to 80%, but for a maximum of CHF196 per day. Overall, the change will have a cost of CHF230 million per year and would require an increase of 0.05 point in the social contributions concerned. Out of the average Swiss monthly salary of CHF6500, an employer and an employee together should pay an additional CHF3.90. 

To date, Switzerland was one among the few countries in the European region to allow just one day off to fathers on the day of their child's birth. However, collective and individual agreements between employers and employees existed to extend the leave in some cases.  

With the introduction of 14 weeks of maternity leave in 2005 and the recent referendum of the 27 September 2020 Switzerland now has both maternity and paternity statutory leaves. 

Olivier Sandoz, Deputy Secretary-General of Federation of Romands companies (Fédération des entreprises Romandes – FER), commented the initiative as follows : “our federation believes that the work-life balance is essential to retain talents and to attract them and basically to meet the aspirations of the new generation and the development of society in general. Paternity leave, as proposed to us, is part of this movement. Certainly, it has a cost but ultimately reasonable compared to the issues at stake. It is therefore with strength and conviction that I will vote yes to this project”. 

In its position paper on all the items subject to referendum, FER underlined: “From an economic point of view, the labor potential of mothers can only be used if they are discharged through a forward-looking family policy, including the role of fathers. In addition, the two-week paternity leave, a hard-negotiated compromise in the parliamentary framework, is more compatible with the needs of companies than a four-week paternity leave. The latter would be too expensive and the additional payroll taxes would weigh heavily on businesses and employees”.