On September 27, 2019, the Swiss parliament adopted a new law providing for two weeks of paid paternity leave. Until now, fathers had just been entitled to one day of paid paternity leave as a matter of Swiss law.

Under the new legislation, any employee who becomes a father can, within the first six months after the child's birth, take two weeks off. These two weeks can be taken either consecutively or in the form of individual days off. During the paternity leave, the father has no salary claim against his employer but a claim for a daily allowance equal to 80% of his daily salary against the governmental insurance that currently insures mothers on maternity leave and those providing military service. However, this daily allowance is capped at CHF 196. This means that employees with a salary exceeding a monthly salary of CHF 5,880 will get less than 80% of their salary reimbursed. Whereas employers can agree to make up for the difference, they are under no legal obligation to do so. However, they must not treat employees on maternity leave and those on paternity leave differently.

The costs of the new legislation will be financed through social security contribution rates that will increase by 0.06% of the salary for both employers and employees.

The new law will probably not end the ongoing political discussion on paternity leave. Indeed, during the parliamentary discussions, different models were discussed, including a proposal for a joint parental leave of 38 weeks. This proposal provided for the parents' right to freely allocate the joint leave between themselves, subject only to limited restrictions. In view of these still ongoing discussions, a popular initiative to ultimately achieve a more extensive parental leave still seems very likely.

At this time, it is not yet clear when the new law will enter into force. The federal government will first have to wait for the expiry of the 90-day period during which a referendum against the new law can be filed. If no referendum is filed, the government will have to set the date on which this new piece of legislation enters into force, which might be as early as July 1, 2020.

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