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Switzerland Introduces New Paid Childcare Leave
Currently, working parents of seriously ill or injured children apply for unpaid leave or temporarily give up work altogether to care for the children.
The New Leave – In order to help the working parents, the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO) and the Income Compensation Act will introduce up to 14 weeks’ paid childcare leave to allow employees to care for seriously ill or injured children. The new leave will enter into force on July 1, 2021.
Parents whose child has an increased need for care due to serious health issues are entitled to care allowance and leave for a maximum of 14 weeks if certain conditions are met. A child’s health is considered seriously impaired if :
- a drastic change occurred in his or her physical or mental condition,
- the course or outcome of this change is difficult to predict, permanent or increasing impairment or death is to be expected,
- there is an increased need for care by the parents and
- at least one parent has to take a break from work to care for the child.
Minor illnesses and accidents (e.g. bone fractures) are excluded and the extent of the need for care is essentially dependent on the age of the child in addition to the severity of the health impairment.
The entitlement to care allowance and leave arises per illness or accident event. If a child falls ill with another serious illness, a new entitlement arises. Illnesses related to the main illness do not count as new illnesses.
Employees can make a further request for paid leave and allowance in the same family if a second child has a serious accident or falls ill, or if several children are seriously injured in the same accident. If a child is born with a serious illness, there is no entitlement to the care allowance. In this case, the mother is entitled to maternity allowance.
Childcare allowance and leave are also granted if one or both parents work part-time.
The entitlement to the allowance also exists on non-working days, e.g. Saturday and Sunday. The allowance and leave must be taken within a framework period of 18 months which begins on the day for which the first daily allowance is drawn.
The leave may be taken at one go or by splitting it. If both parents are employed, each parent is in principle entitled to a maximum of 7 weeks childcare leave and half of the daily allowances. Furthermore, an employee’s holiday entitlement may not be reduced by taking childcare leave.