Parliament has agreed in principle to extend the system of child benefits to include families of self-employed people.
Allowances for about 1.7 million children are granted, but under existing law in force since January 2009 a total of 75,000 children are left out.
The scheme, which is to be funded through deductions from salaries, is expected to cost about SFr167 million ($158 million). The allowances consist of at least SFr200 per month for children up to the age of 16, and additional education benefits.
The Senate on Tuesday followed the House of Representatives which will draft the necessary legal amendment to be discussed in detail at a later stage.
Opponents, particularly on the centre-right and the right wing, warned of interference in the autonomy of the cantons and of a bureaucratic system.
However supporters, including Interior Minister Didier Burkhalter, pointed out that a nationwide solution was easy to oversee and that 13 of the country’s 26 cantons had already introduced a similar system.
swissinfo.ch with agencies