The Swiss government recently passed amendments to the Swiss Code of Obligations (“CO”) and to the Loss of Earnings Compensation Act (“LECA”), granting ten working days of government-paid adoption leave to employees who adopt children under the age of four. The leave entitlement went into effect on 1 January 2023.

Key details

Adoptive parents who meet the following requirements for an adoption leave allowance are eligible for two weeks of adoption leave:

  • An adoptive child is under the age of four and begins living with the adoptive parents (this may begin prior to or during the formal conclusion of the adoption proceedings). 
  • The employee:
    • is employed or self-employed.
    • has a minimum of nine months of qualifying insurance immediately preceding the date the child is placed into their home.
    • has performed paid work for at least five months out of the minimum requirement of nine months.

Eligible employees are required to use adoption leave within one year from the date the child began living with them. Employees can choose to take the leave in week-long increments or as individual days (total of ten days).

Employees who adopt their stepchildren are not eligible for adoption leave. Employees who adopt multiple children at the same time are entitled to only one adoption leave allowance.

Couples adopting a child jointly may share the adoption leave allotment and have full discretion to determine how days are split, with the exception that they may not take their portions of leave concurrently. In order to be entitled to the adoptive leave, each of the adoptive parents must meet the eligibility requirements.

The adoption allowance

Unless otherwise agreed to by the employer, employees are not entitled to their salary during their adoption leave but instead to a government-paid adoption allowance for two weeks. The allowance is equal to 80% of the average, earned income, up to CHF 220 per day. The allowance is calculated separately for each parent based on their respective income. If the employer advances the adoption leave allowance to an employee, the employer will be entitled to the adoption allowance.

Next steps

Employers should educate their employees about the new adoption leave entitlement and update their internal policies and procedures as well as their employees’ employment contracts to ensure full compliance with the new rules.