Canton of Geneva: 24-Week Parental Leave!

24-week parental leave in Geneva: overview of the main new features, entry into force, financing and compulsory nature of parental leave.

New - Canton of Geneva: 24-Week Parental Leave!

On 18 June 2023, the Republic and Canton of Geneva accepted the initiative “Pour un congé parental maintenant !” (For Parental Leave Now!). Essentially, this initiative aims to amend the Geneva Constitution to establish an insurance system providing for a parental leave of at least 24 weeks, by combining maternity and paternity leaves.

What are the main changes brought by this initiative?

Currently, in Geneva, parental leave is 18 weeks. Maternity leave lasts 16 weeks. This includes 14 weeks provided under the federal regime of the LECA (Loss of Earnings Compensation Act), in addition to 2 weeks provided under the Geneva cantonal legislation. As for paternity leave, it is 2 weeks, as provided under the federal LECA regime.

The initiative accepted on 18 June 2023 will extend parental leave from 18 to 24 weeks, with 16 weeks being mandatory for the mother and 8 weeks for the other parent. Upon joint request from the parents, it will be possible to transfer 2 weeks from one parent to the other. 

Parental leave applies to all family models, including same-sex parents, adoptive parents or those providing permanent accommodation for a child, thereby expanding the number of potential beneficiaries.

When will the changes become effective?

Contrary to what the title of the initiative may suggest, this new regime is not applicable "now". In fact, this initiative merely establishes the principle of a 24-week parental leave but without specifying the implementation modalities. The Grand Council of Geneva (the parliament) will thus have to develop the implementation measures for this initiative and make it enforceable.

As it stands, the date of implementation for this new regime is unknown. According to current projections, it is not expected to take effect before 2025.

Will all private-sector employers be obliged to grant the leave as provided by this initiative?

There is no guarantee that employees in the private sector will benefit from this more favorable regime. In the absence of a mandatory nature of this new regime, an employer could legitimately refuse to grant this leave, which may lead to inequalities.

How will this leave be financed?

The costs associated with the new parental leave will be covered by joint contributions borne by all employers and employees. These contributions will be mandatory, even if some employees do not necessarily benefit from this new parental leave.

The parental leave will entail an increase in joint contributions of approximately 0.15% to 0.2%.

What are the main issues that will need to be considered in the implementation measures?

The scope of application, including the circle of beneficiaries, and its coordination with the federal regime, will need to be clarified. The current system of parental leave requires a filial relationship between the child and the benefiting parent. However, the initiative's system does not necessarily require a filial relationship since a person with a parental responsibility can benefit from this new parental leave. 

The implementation measures will also need to regulate the situation where the employer of only one parent is subject to this new regime.

Blog author Catherine Aeby
Catherine Aeby

Senior Manager,KPMG Law

KPMG Switzerland

Blog author Tahar Nemir
Tahar Nemir

Expert,KPMG Law

KPMG Switzerland