Paternity Leave – What to Consider for (Expectant) Fathers

Paternity Leave – What to Consider for (Expectant) Fathers

1. Introduction
Under Swiss law, as of 1st January 2021 fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave paid via the Income Replacement Ordinance (EO). The most important aspects of the new regulation on paternity leave are presented below.

2. Eligibility and Entitlement
Men who are the legal father of a child at the time of its birth or who become the legal father within six months of the birth are eligible. For unmarried fathers, it is therefore advisable to declare one’s status to the civil registry office as soon as possible following the birth. The beneficiary must have also completed a nine-month period of prior insurance as defined by the AHVG and must have been gainfully employed for at least five months during the previous insurance period. Finally, the father must also be gainfully employed at the time of the birth.

With the entitlement to two weeks of paternity leave comes the entitlement to paternity compensation in the amount of 14 daily allowances at 80% of the employee’s average earned income.

Paternity leave must be taken within six months of the birth of the child and can be taken on a weekly or daily basis.

3. Effects on the Existing Employment Relationship
If an employer granted its employee fully compensated, contractual paternity leave prior to the effective date of the regulation, the employer remains obligated to grant the promised leave and pay the salary even after the effective date of the regulation.

If the employment contract does not provide for paternity leave, the statutory entitlement to paternity leave shall, in principle, replace the entitlement to time off within the scope of the “usual hours and days off”. In this case, the employee is entitled to paternity leave within the statutory limits and to the paternity allowance.

4. Taking Paternity Leave
It is advisable to discuss the timing of paternity leave with the employer prior to the birth. In particular, it is important to clarify when paternity leave is to be taken and whether it is to be taken all at once, by the week or by the day.

5. Outlook and Conclusion
In view of the political discussions, the introduction of parental leave is to be expected and the granting of the two-week paternity leave is to be regarded merely as an intermediate step. The introduction of parental leave would allow parents to decide for themselves how to divide the granted leave following the birth of a child. Until parental leave is implemented, it remains to be seen what legal challenges will arise in connection with the new regulation of paternity leave.

-MLaw Ralf Voger, Attorney at Law at Studhalter & Meier Rechtsanwälte AG
-MLaw Chiara Boccato and MLaw Mara Wilhelm, Legal Interns at Studhalter & Meier Rechtsanwälte AG