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Switzerland: Adoptive Mothers and Fathers in Switzerland to Receive Two Weeks of Paid Adoption Leave

Only recently, a proposal for paid paternity leave was approved in the referendum of 27 September 2020 and the resulting law came into force on 1 January 2021. Since then, fathers can take two weeks of paid paternity leave within six months of the birth of their child.

The growing need for care and nursing, the new types of family structures as well as the steadily increasing employment rate among women have also led to a reform in the area of balancing gainful employment and child or family care. Since 1 January 2021 and 1 July 2021, the law has provided an entitlement to paid care leave of up to three days for the necessary care of relatives and up to 14 weeks for the care of children with serious health problems.

The extension of leave for mothers and fathers and the resulting improvement in the compatibility of family and gainful employment have so far not extended to the area of adoption. Although the issue of an adoption allowance had already been the subject of several parliamentary debates, parents who adopted a child had until now had no legal entitlement to leave when the child joined the family.

This will change from 1 January 2023 as both adoptive mothers and fathers will have a statutory right to two weeks’ paid adoption leave.

Gainfully employed persons who adopt a child less than four years old are entitled to the adoption allowance. Adoption leave is a necessary supplement to adoption allowance. In other words, only those who meet the requirements for an adoption allowance are also entitled to adoption leave.

The requirements for the adoption allowance are the same as for the maternity and paternity allowances: Persons making a claim must be employed or self-employed at the time of taking in the child; they must have been insured within the meaning of the Federal Act on Old Age and Survivors’ Insurance for the nine months immediately prior to taking in the child and must have been gainfully employed for at least five months during this period.

Adoption leave must be taken within the first year after taking in the child. The adoption allowance amounts to 80 per cent of the average earned income, but not more than CHF 196 per day.

In the case of a joint adoption, an entitlement to paid adoption leave arises only once, and only if both parents meet the relevant requirements. However, out of respect for equality in the family, the law provides that the adoptive parents are free to choose which of them receives the compensation in the form of paid leave. The paid leave can also be split between the parents.

Analogous to the birth of multiple children, which also triggers only one maternity allowance, only one allowance is to be paid in the case of a simultaneous adoption of several children.

Those who adopt their partner’s child (stepchild) are not entitled to paid adoption leave.