The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Motherhood and Parliamentary Work Are Becoming More Compatible

In Switzerland, parliamentarians on maternity leave will soon be able to carry out their parliamentary duties without losing their entitlement to maternity compensation. Both the Council of States and the National Council have voted in favour of a corresponding amendment to the Earnings Replacement Act. Currently, a parliamentarian loses her maternity compensation for her full-time activity as soon as she participates in parliamentary sessions. The Federal Court confirmed this in a leading decision last year. In future, the participation of mothers on maternity leave in parliamentary sessions will no longer be considered as the resumption of gainful employment. Therefore, the woman will not lose her maternity compensation if she works in a parliament. The National Council voted in favour of the amendment to the Earnings Replacement Act on Thursday with 155 votes to 22, with five abstentions. The Council of States had already agreed in June. The planned amendment to the law is based on standing initiatives of several cantons. The new regulation will apply at the municipal, cantonal and federal levels. Due to a small difference, the proposal will now go back to the Council of States. The majority of the National Council argued that a parliamentarian elected by the people should not be hindered in fulfilling her political mandate due to maternity. Otherwise, the political power relations desired by the voters could change. The majority of the SVP faction said no to the new regulation. According to faction spokeswoman Barbara Steinemann (ZH), this majority finds that the proposal would create a one-sided improvement of parliamentarians that would not be understood by the people. It is also feared that a yes to the proposal could lead to further exceptions to maternity protection. The proposal was worked out by the Commission for Social Security and Health of the Council of States (SGK-S) with the support of its sister commission from the National Council. The Federal Court ruling from last year concerned the Bern National Councilor Katrin Bertschy (GLP). After the birth of her child at the end of 2018, she received maternity compensation. In February 2019, the otherwise self-employed took part in a commission meeting and from March 3 almost daily in further sessions. The compensation office denied the Bern National Councilor the right to compensation from March 4 due to her participation in the Council's activities and demanded the overpaid contributions back. The office argued that the 14-week maternity compensation would end prematurely if a mother resumed her gainful employment. The Council of States and the National Council agreed that parliamentarians on maternity leave should not only be able to vote, but also to participate in commission meetings.nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

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