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Proposed Changes to Switzerland’s Parental Leave System

The Federal Commission for Family Affairs in Switzerland has proposed changes to the Swiss parental leave system which would bring organizations based in Switzerland in line with the EDGE Requirements.

The Federal Commission for Family Affairs in Switzerland has proposed an increase in parental leave from the current 16 weeks to a total of 38 weeks. The proposed model would either distribute the parental leave allowance equally, with 19 weeks reserved for each parent, or would leave the distribution to the parents themselves. The second option would allow mothers to benefit from at least 16 and up to 23 weeks of paid parental leave, and would allow fathers a respective allowance of minimum 15 to maximum 22 weeks of parental leave.

Currently, women in Switzerland are entitled to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave and men to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. This falls short of the 2021 OECD averages of 51 weeks of paid leave available to mothers and 10.6 weeks to fathers. In fact, Switzerland ranks 35th out of 38 OECD countries for reserved and shareable paid family leave entitlements.

Source: OECD Family Database, Parental leave systems

These proposed changes to parental leave policy are an important step towards encouraging a fairer distribution of childcare and family responsibilities. Similar policies in other OECD countries have shown positive effects by granting fathers more time to engage with early childcare and increasing mothers’ labor force participation following childbirth. For example, an article from the World Economic Forum reports that policies encouraging fathers to take parental leave have been shown to increase paternal involvement in childcare and promote gender equality in the workplace. These policies can also help to reduce the gender pay gap by encouraging more equal sharing of care responsibilities. Moreover, a report by the OECD also found that policies that encourage fathers to take leave can help to break down traditional gender roles and promote more equal participation by women in the labor market.

The proposal to increase parental leave in Switzerland is a positive development towards improving work-life balance and gender equality in Switzerland. It is a significant improvement to the current parental leave policy, and one which could have a positive practical impact on new parents and families.

Should these changes be implemented, they would ensure that Swiss organizations are aligned with the EDGE methodology and standards on parental leave, which require organizations to offer 16 weeks or more of both paid paternity and maternity leave.