How can I have a positive experience both during pregnancy and after childbirth? Our tips for a successful experience of motherhood in Switzerland.
What assistance is available?
In Switzerland, an expectant mother can receive help from:
The confederation sets the general framework and minimum benefits to be complied with.
Your canton may provide for additional allowances to those paid by the Confederation.
Your employer may offer more generous coverage than the minimum required by law.
What does the law provide for?
Whether you are an employee, self-employed, unemployed or receiving a loss-of-earnings allowance at the time of birth, you are entitled to maternity leave for a minimum of 14 weeks (16 weeks for Geneva residents).
If you return to work earlier, your entitlement to maternity benefits stops immediately. However, you are prohibited from working during the eight weeks following childbirth (Art. 35 (a) (3) Federal Law on Employment in Trade and Industry).
During maternity leave, you will receive 80% of the average income earned before childbirth in the form of maternity allowance capped at CHF 196 per day. More generous benefits may be provided for under the cantonal provisions of your place of residence or under your company's staff regulations.
As maternity benefits are considered as a salary, contributions to the LPP (Federal Law on Occupational Benefits), AVS (old age and survivor’s insurance), AI and APG (disability and loss of earnings capacity) are deducted. During this period you benefit from accident insurance and occupational pension insurance coverage.
What to do to obtain maternity benefits:
- employee: your employer will automatically pay you the federal and cantonal benefits (if applicable)
- self-employed, unemployed or unable to work: contact the AVS (old age and survivor’s insurance) compensation fund
The prerequisites to fulfil to obtain maternity benefits:
- have been insured with the AVS (old age and survivor's insurance) for nine months before the birth
- have worked for at least five months during the period before the birth
Your employer is prohibited from terminating your employment contract during your pregnancy as well as during the 16 weeks following childbirth. This right comes into effect from the first day of pregnancy in the case of a permanent employment contract and after the end of the trial period. In other cases, i.e. during the trial period or a fixed-term contract that is about to expire, you do not benefit from this protection.
Swiss law makes provisions for women only. For any special provisions that men may benefit from, it is worth finding out about your employer's staff regulations. Some companies offer their employees benefits in the form of paternity leave and/or so-called ‘childbirth’ bonuses.
Key steps to remember!
At the start of the pregnancy
- Tell your employer that you are pregnant. Legally, you are not required to do so, but it is easier to do this in order to benefit from the rights you are entitled to. Be careful, however, because during a trial period you do not benefit from job protection.
- Take out additional insurance or prenatal health insurance before the birth so you can benefit from additional care during pregnancy or insure your unborn child before the birth.
During the pregnancy
- Prepare for your maternity leave.
- Book a place in a nursery or choose an alternative childcare option for your future child. Ask your employer about availing of the company nursery or, if there isn’t one available, find out about the nurseries they recommend. The alternative ‘nanny’ model is very popular in Switzerland. You can easily find addresses online.
- Basic health insurance (LAMal) covers a certain number of treatments without you having to pay the deductible or co-payment, such as:
- check-ups with your doctor,
- two ultrasounds or more if your gynaecologist considers it necessary
- group childbirth preparation courses
- breastfeeding advice sessions, etc.
- Reduce your working hours according to the type of work you do: if you work mainly standing up, or evenings or nights, or if you perform dangerous tasks, there are legal provisions in place to protect you during pregnancy and reduce your workload. For example, if you work evenings or nights, you may request to work during the day in a similar role.
After the birth
- Your health insurance covers the care of a healthy newborn baby, including the stay in hospital after the birth.
- If you have not already done so, you have three months (with retroactive effect) to take out health insurance for your baby.
- Register the birth with the authorities
- In the event of a birth outside marriage:
- Recognition of the child by the father at the Civil Registry Office (before or after the birth)
- Declaration of joint custody of the child at the Civil Registry Office (before or after the birth)
- Maternity leave begins after childbirth. The leave duration is a minimum of 14 weeks, but it may vary depending on the canton and the employer's conditions.
- Respect the work prohibition period during the first eight weeks after the birth.
- Prepare for your return to work.
- Take your time when it comes to breastfeeding: you are provided with time to pump milk or breastfeed during working hours.
- Enjoy your baby!
In order to find out all the special features provided for by law, we recommend that you consult the Confederation’s official document, which you can find on the SECO website www.seco.admin.ch entitled ‘Pregnancy and Motherhood - Employee protection’.