New calls for part-time work to be a right for parents in Switzerland

New calls for part-time work to be a right for parents in Switzerland

The Green Party of Switzerland has demanded that parents be allowed to move to part-time working hours after the adoption or birth of their child. The benefit would be given to mothers and fathers and is designed to encourage parents to spend more time raising their children without fear of losing their job.

Green Party: Part-time work should be available for all parents in Switzerland

Speaking to 20 minuten, Green National Councillor Fabien Fivaz called for workers in medium to large companies to “have the right to reduce their level of employment appropriately after the birth or adoption of a child." Fivaz, who recently became a father, told the newspaper that employers needed to be more flexible when offering parents part-time work.

His idea is based on the “right to part-time work” scheme implemented for workers in the government in 2013, which allows mothers and fathers to reduce their working hours by up to 20 percent, to a minimum workload of 60 percent. They are then allowed to return to normal working hours within three years of reducing them.

Fewer people take part-time work for fear of jeopardising career

The Green Party cited a study by Swiss Life, which revealed that while 96 percent of mothers would prefer to move to part-time work, only 51 percent actually make the switch. The issue is more prevalent with fathers, with 87 percent wanting to move to shorter hours, but only 19 percent following through.

“Part-time work has a bad image in industry. Many don't dare to ask because they don't want to jeopardise their careers," Fivaz noted. By making part-time work a right for parents, he argued that the policy would help destigmatise shorter hours and make jobs in Switzerland more flexible around the needs of workers.

His thoughts were echoed by National Councillor Florence Brenzikofer, who told 20 mintuen that “If my husband hadn't reduced [his working hours] to 50 percent, I wouldn't have gone back to work at 70 percent… in the infant phase you are dependent on someone from the immediate environment taking care of the child.” Amid significant worker shortages, she concluded that it was important to keep parents working for as long as they can after maternity and paternity leave has ended.

Opponents call the scheme unnecessary and expensive

Others are not so warm to the idea, with National Councillor Judith Bellaiche contradicting Brenzikofer by arguing that, "From an economic point of view, one should rather ensure that higher workloads are financially worthwhile. With this proposal you would do the opposite… the labour market is proving to be robust - precisely because we resist the temptation to impose excessive regulations." 

The Swiss Employers’ Association made the point that more parents are already choosing to switch to part-time work without any government intervention. Spokesperson Andy Müller told 20 minuten that the number of fathers working part-time has increased from 14 to 19 percent over the last 10 years “without any legal regulation.”

Despite being narrowly rejected at the committee level, Fivaz’s proposal is still set to be debated in the National Council. They will make a decision on the plan this week. 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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