Both fathers and mothers are entitled to paid leave after the birth of their child, also known as parental leave, in Switzerland. While mothers are entitled to 14 weeks of leave, fathers have been entitled to a total of 2 weeks of paternity leave since the 2020 national referendum. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about maternity and paternity leave in Switzerland.
Who is entitled to maternity leave?
Maternity benefits are a replacement income that all employed mothers are entitled to by law. This includes both employees, self-employed individuals, and unemployed women, as well as women who work for their partner's or a family member's company and receive a salary there. It is irrelevant whether these women work full-time or part-time. Another requirement for entitlement is that mothers must have been compulsorily insured in the AHV (Swiss social security system) for the nine months prior to the birth and have been employed for at least five months during this period.
Amount and duration of maternity benefits
Maternity leave officially begins with the birth of the child and ends 98 days (14 weeks) after the birth. If gainful employment is resumed before this time, entitlement ends prematurely. The amount of maternity benefits is 80% of the average salary earned prior to the birth and is paid in the form of daily allowances. The maximum amount is CHF 196.- per day.
Is termination possible during maternity leave?
Article 336c of the Swiss Code of Obligations stipulates a prohibition on termination for employers, also known as a temporary ban on termination. This means that employers are not allowed to terminate an employee for a certain period of time. From the beginning of the pregnancy until 16 weeks after the birth, terminations are invalid. To make them effective, they must be renewed after the end of the blocking period. Mothers, on the other hand, can resign during this period by adhering to the ordinary notice period. However, it should be noted that the employee's entitlement to continued payment of wages will also end if they resign.
Who is entitled to paternity leave?
As with mothers, the loss of earnings during paternity leave is compensated. Fathers who were employed at the time of the child's birth are entitled to paternity leave. This includes employees, self-employed individuals, and the unemployed, as well as with mothers. Also, fathers must have been compulsory insured with AHV in the nine months before the birth of the child and were also employed for at least five months. In addition, the father must already be the legal father at the time of the child's birth or become so within the following six months, either through acknowledgment of paternity or marriage.
Duration and amount of paternity compensation
Paternity leave lasts 14 days and can be taken within 6 months after the birth. If the father does not take the leave during this time, the entitlement expires. As with mothers, the amount of paternity compensation is 80% of the average earnings earned before the birth. The maximum amount is also CHF 196 per day.
How can I apply for maternity or paternity compensation?
The compensation can be requested either indirectly through the employer or directly from the employer using a form. In the case of unemployment or self-employment or under special circumstances, fathers and mothers can also submit this request themselves to the AHV Compensation Fund. If the parents do not fulfill their maintenance or support obligations, relatives can also apply for compensation. If the application is not submitted within 5 years after the end of the leave, the entitlement expires.
Who pays for maternity and paternity leave?
If the employer provides salary continuation for the duration of the leave, the compensation is paid by the compensation office to the employer. However, in case of differences with the employer or in certain circumstances, a direct payment by the compensation office can also be requested. Special circumstances include the employer's insolvency or when the employer should not be informed of certain facts, such as self-employment. Otherwise, the compensation office pays the compensation directly to the mother and father at the end of each month in arrears. If the daily allowance is very low (less than CHF 200.-), the entire amount will be reimbursed at the end of the leave. Payment of the compensation is also possible abroad if you move your place of residence after the birth.
Do these compensations need to be taxed?
Both for the mother and the father compensation, like other income, must be taxed . For foreign employees without a settlement permit, it is subject to withholding tax, like normal wages. If you remain employed, the payroll department will handle the calculation of this tax, and it is the responsibility of the employer.
How is maternity and paternity leave financed?
Compensation is financed exclusively through contributions to the Loss of Earnings Compensation Scheme (EO), which are collected together with AHV contributions. The current contribution rate is 0.5% of gross salary.
Is maternity and paternity compensation subject to contributions?
Since maternity and paternity compensation also counts as income, the usual AHV/IV and EO contributions must be paid on it. Employees must also continue to pay a contribution to unemployment insurance. Therefore, this income is also entered into the individual AHV account and credited towards future pensions. While fathers must continue to pay BVG contributions during the period of paternity leave, mothers are exempt from this during maternity leave.
Does the protection of professional insurances remain in force?
Yes, the protection of mandatory accident insurance also applies during maternity and paternity leave. The insurance coverage of occupational pensions also remains the same. The coordinated salary remains unchanged, but a reduction may be requested under certain circumstances.