11 August 2023

Parental leave in Geneva

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The people of Geneva decided in June: Parents working in Geneva will be entitled to 24 weeks of parental leave after the birth of a child. An overview of the initiative and its (legal) consequences.

What was voted on?

The initiative aimed to amend the Geneva Constitution to guarantee 24 weeks of parental leave. The parental leave initiative was intended to make it possible to supplement the 16-week cantonal maternity leave (in the canton of Geneva mothers already have 16 weeks instead of 14 weeks maternity leave) and the 2-week paternity leave by an additional 8 weeks. 6 of the 8 additional weeks are compulsory for the parent who does not benefit from maternity insurance. The other 2 weeks can be agreed individually by each couple.
Parental leave applies to all family models. Same-sex couples, adoptive parents and foster parents are also entitled to it.

When will the new rules apply?

The initiative only lays down the principles. The Geneva parliament will have to draw up measures to implement the initiative before the parental leave comes into force. It is not yet clear how long this will take.
Are employers under an obligation?
No, the title of the initiative can be misleading at first sight, because in fact private employers cannot be obliged to grant parental leave to their employees. This is due to the primacy of federal law and the conclusive regulation of holidays in the Code of Obligations (Art. 329a - 329j in the Federal Act on the Supplementation of the Swiss Civil Code, CO).

Who pays for parental leave?

The 24 weeks of parental leave after the birth of a newborn child are financed by an increase of 0.15 - 0.2 % in the contributions paid by employees and employers to the cantonal maternity insurance scheme. The crux of the matter is that these contributions are compulsory, even though there is no guarantee that the employee will benefit from parental leave.