16 March 2020





UPDATE: In view of the current situation, on 20 March 2020 the Swiss Federal Council has decided on a comprehensive package of measures to mitigate the economic consequences of the spread of the coronavirus. Among other things, new measures were taken with regard to loss of earnings due to school closures:

  • Employees who have to care for their children at home and interrupt their employment due to school closures are entitled to compensation.
  • Entitled to benefits are dependent and self-employed parents with children up to the age of 12 who interrupt their employment due to the loss of third-party care for their children as a result of the governmental measures in accordance with Articles 35 and 40 of the Epidemics Act of 28 September 20123 in connection with the corona epidemic (COVID-19).
  • The compensation is based on the compensation scheme for loss of earnings (Federal Act on Compensation for Loss of Earnings (income replacement in case of service or maternity) and is paid out as a daily allowance. The daily allowance corresponds to 80% of the average income and amounts to a maximum of CHF 196 per day.
  • The compensation is subsidiary to other benefits provided by social security, insurance and employer's benefits. This means, in particular, that parents can apply for the daily allowance from the 4th day of care for their children provided that there is no continued salary payment and no mutual solution with the employer is possible (e.g. home office; see below).
  • Payment is made by the competent AHV compensation fund to the entitled person. The daily allowance is subject to social contributions.
  • The corresponding ordinance was put into force retroactively as of 17 March 2020 and shall remain in force for six months.

Last Friday, the Swiss Federal Council has issued additional measures in relation to the new Coronavirus (see our recent posts: ["Coronavirus: what employers should know"] and ["Coronavirus: Reduced working hours to counter the economic consequences"]). These measures aim at protecting the public and safeguarding the best possible healthcare provision for those who are affected.

The measures include inter alia, effective today and until at least 4 April 2020, a ban on classroom teaching at all educational establishments. In other words, schools are closed.

Both, employees with children as well as employers will have to find arrangements to cope with the implications this measure will certainly and instantly have.

Here are five quick answers that provide useful guidance:

1. Can employees with children stay home or can employers force them to attend work?

Under the Swiss Labor Code, if their children are sick, employees have a right to stay home for a maximum of three days to arrange for the care of their children. The current situation is comparable. Also, taking care of children is a statutory obligation for parents.

Accordingly, employees with children may stay home to arrange for care of their children at least for three days. If employees need longer than three days to arrange for external care, they have to find a mutual solution with the employer (e.g. home office).

2. Are these absences paid?

This is highly controversial and very little relevant case law exists.

Our position is the following: for a duration of three days, these absences for employees with children are paid. Beyond three days, there is no obligation to pay salary for the employer. However, voluntarily extending salary payments might be a smart HR strategy for employers.

3. Can employers ask employees with children to use their vacation entitlement for their absences?

No. The sole purpose of vacation is recreation. Swiss case law is very strict in this regard.

4. Does the employer have to cover costs for external childcare?

No, the employer does not have to cover or reimburse the costs for external childcare (e.g. babysitter). However, voluntarily supporting employees in organizing their childcare might be a smart HR strategy.

5. Can employers impose home office for employees with children? Do employees have a right to work from home?

Neither. Unless there is a corresponding contractual provision that provides for the employer's right to order home office, the latter is only possible with the consent of both employer and employee. We strongly recommend concluding a mutual agreement governing all modalities of home office (scope, duration, working hours and recording, equipment, costs, confidentiality, data protection, etc.).

Our Employment Law team is happy to assist should you have any questions on these topics.

Authors: Marc Ph. Prinz, Anela Lucic

Topics: Employment LawEmployerCoronavirusSalary Continuation


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