Workers’ group calls for more paternity leave

Paid time off for new fathers often doesn't reflect the impact of such a momentous life event. Keystone

This content was published on May 18, 2015 - 12:03 and agencies

Fathers in Switzerland should get more time off when their children are born, finds employee federation Travail Suisse. More than half of the firms it surveyed give men just one day off to mark the birth of a child.

Travail Suisse, an umbrella group for workers’ unions, examined the collective employment contracts of 46 major Swiss companies, which employ some 1.5 million people in total. While some of the firms offer somewhere between two and 20 days of paid leave, the majority give only one – making the birth of a child comparable to moving house in terms of time off.

In its study, released on Monday, Travail Suisse reported that larger firms tend to be more generous with paternity leave than smaller firms. At the more generous end of the spectrum (five days off) were banks, the watchmaking industry and mechanical and engineering firms – as well as the public sector. The stingier industries (one day off) include gastronomy, construction and cleaning.

Travail Suisse proposes 20 days of flexible, paid paternity leave for all fathers in Switzerland. It suggests that the time off could be funded in part through income compensation insurance, which currently helps to finance maternity leave to the tune of 80% of the mother’s salary.

“The costs for companies would be moderate, and dependant on whether there were many fathers in the same team,” said Matthias Kuert Killer of Travail Suisse. “Paternity leave is an important element of modern family policy.”

Last month, the House of Representatives called for two weeks of mandatory paternity leave. Travail Suisse has welcomed this first concrete step. The Senate is expected to vote on the motion in late summer.

How does Switzerland compare with other countries?

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