No parental leave for Swiss military fathers

While new fathers across Switzerland can look forward to benefit from the new paternal leave allowances the government is set to introduce, men completing their compulsory military service will have no such luck.

No parental leave for Swiss military fathers
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Swiss military has indicated it will not be adopting the policy, meaning that those completing their compulsory service will not be given leeway to return should their partners give birth. The only exception is where the pregnancy could be described as ‘high risk’. 

Military service is proscribed under the Swiss constitution for men only. The proposed Swiss ordinance would only apply to regular employment, not constitutionally-proscribed military service. 

Recruits are required to complete 18 weeks of military boot camp once they reach the age of 18.

They must then complete several weeks in the army per year until they have completed a minimum of 245 days of military service. 

A referendum held in 2013 on whether to keep compulsory military service in Switzerland attracted a majority of support. 

In recent years, the civilian service option has become more popular, with military authorities concerned about dwindling numbers. 

READ: The Swiss army’s growing problem with military service 

The military has hit back, saying that while the parental leave plan will not be implemented, there are a range of other options for expecting fathers to see their children. 

A spokesman for the military, Daniel Reist, told Swiss newspaper Watson that while the military was aware that compulsory service “can cause inconvenience”, the army was sensitive to the needs of families. 

Reist said that fathers could apply for leave ahead of time, although this would need to be approved by their responsible officer. 

“A father-to-be can apply for personal leave for the birth date, which few commanders would deny, provided that the military achievements of the person applying for military service and the service company permit this,” he said. 

“The army has not closed its eyes to the modern division of roles within the family.”

According to the military’s internal rules for postponement, an order can be made where the “private interest of the applicant outweighs the public interest in the performance of the (compulsory service)”.



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Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers

Spain’s Social Rights Minister wants to increase the parental leave Spanish mums and dads get for every newborn from the current 16 weeks to 24 weeks.

Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers
Photo: David Straight/Unsplash

Spain’s Minister of Social Rights Ione Belarra announced on Wednesday that her department intends to extend parental leave for fathers and mothers to 24 weeks, equal to six months for each parent. 

“This Ministry is going to fight for extending permits to six months and to extend child education from 0 to 3 years in the public network of infant schools,” Belarra said at a conference on Spain’s upcoming Family Diversity Law, which the six-month parental leave would form part of. 

According to Belarra, who has taken over from Pablo Iglesias as the head of the hard-left party Unidas Podemos, the Spanish government has “unfinished business with the families of newborn babies”.

“I’m aware of how incredibly difficult it is for many families to find a balance between parenting and work, especially in the first years of their child’s life”, she said, and “how difficult it is for many mothers to leave four-month-old babies with other people to go back to their jobs”.

Spain increased its paternity leave for fathers to 16 weeks in January 2021, equalling the leave mothers get, both of which are remunerated at 100 percent of their regulatory base salary.

The country has also come a long way in terms of parental leave, as in 2006 new dads were still only given two days off to be with their newborns.

READ MORE: New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave

But according to Belarra (pictured below), the current amount of parental leave is still causing “difficulties” when raising babies, in the country with the second lowest birth rate in the EU.


According to ministerial sources, the fact that a concrete amount of parental leave has been put forward as part of the Family Diversity draft law should facilitate negotiations with the socialist PSOE party that Unidas Podemos forms a government coalition with. 

Belarra is also pushing for child benefits for parents as a means of encouraging couples who are not having children “for financial reasons” or because “they don’t have a suitable home or stable job”. 

The child benefit should be available even to those who don’t make social security contributions, who as things stand can’t access government parenting aid, the Social Rights Minister added.

“This family diversity law goes to the root of the problem, to protect the material living conditions of families and to make it a little easier to raise kids.

“It cannot be that the fourth economy of the EU allocates almost one point less of its GDP to support their families than the average.

“In Spain, having children severely increases the risk of being poor,” the minister concluded.

A total of 22,182 fewer babies were born in Spain in 2020, with the latest fertility index showing that the average number of children per woman in the country is only 1.18.