Switzerland: two weeks of paid leave for dads?

Switzerland will hold a referendum at the end of September on the introduction of a two-week paid paternity leave. Up to now, fathers can only take one day's paid leave after the birth of a child by law, although some companies voluntarily grant more. Switzerland is among the lowest ranking countries in the OECD comparison on paternal leave systems. Commentators discuss the potential of two weeks of family time.

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Blick (CH) /

Every day spent with dad counts

More paternity leave has positive long-term effects for families, Blick columnist Patrizia Laeri argues:

“Unfortunately the Swiss stand far less chance of being good fathers than their European neighbours. ... While a Swiss person currently receives just one day for his baby, a Swede, for example, can get up to 420. That's pretty unfair for Swiss fathers and children. Fathers who have more time for their children while they are very young spend more time with them throughout their lives. Even if the couple gets divorced. We know this from Sweden and from studies that show that parental leave helps men become good fathers. ... Even if a lot more reforms are needed in Switzerland - months of parental leave worthy of the name, more part-time work even in high-responsibility jobs - every day counts.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

A bird in the hand ...

Although paternity leave doesn't go far enough, reject the bill for this reason would have serious consequences, the Aargauer Zeitung argues:

“Fourteen weeks compensated maternity leave for women, two weeks paternity leave for men. That seems anachronistic. In the weeks immediately after giving birth mothers need a regeneration phase for health reasons, with the right to compensation for loss of earnings. But after that it should be left to couples to decide how they want to divide up the parental leave care time financed by the general public. ... Progress in social policy is rare. It would be wrong to reject the bird we have in the hand in the form of paternity leave in the hope of catching a parental leave pigeon on the roof. A no to the current proposal would bring family policy back to square one.”