Switzerland: Canton Geneva to Become First Swiss Canton Introducing a Parental Leave
Swiss federal law stipulates that at least 14 weeks of maternity and 2 weeks of paternity leave are guaranteed to employees. This federal minimum duration of maternity and paternity leave may not be undercut, but it may be exceeded, as is the case in the Canton of Geneva, which had already increased its maternity leave by an additional 2 weeks to a total of 16 weeks. Now the Canton of Geneva has extended its pioneering position further, with 58% of its voters affirming an additional 8 weeks of parental leave.
As the name “parental leave” already implies, here the legislator deliberately refrains from explicitly stating which parent will receive the extra 8 weeks of paid time to care for the new addition to the family. Rather, parental leave is intended to provide relief for all possible family structures, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation or whether the child has been adopted. The only restriction on the freedom to schedule these 8 weeks is that – if a maternity benefit has been paid to one parent – at least 6 weeks must be taken by the other parent. Therefore, a maximum of 2 weeks can be added to the already existing 16-week maternity leave or up to 8 weeks can be added to the 2-week paternity leave. The cost of parental leave compensation is to be shared equally between the employer and the employee. According to an initial forecast by the proponents of this now adopted parental leave, an increase of approximately 0.05% in wage deductions under social security law is expected.