In a national referendum on Sunday, Swiss voters passed a paid paternity leave policy allowing fathers to take up to 10 days off.
Prior to the vote, Swiss fathers were only allowed just one day off for the birth of a child. The law expands the number of days permitted to new fathers, and also mandates that they be paid 80 percent of their salary for the duration of their leave, according to the New York Times.
The law would not have had to go to a referendum were it not for an enthusiastic group of conservative politicians who collected more than 50,000 signatures for a petition opposing the measure after Parliament approved it in 2019. But though the law passed in a repudiation of conservatives’ backward ideas about gender, in Switzerland, fighting over 10 days of paid paternity leave is basically fighting for scraps.
In neighboring countries that are part of the European Union, both parents will soon be entitled to four months of parental leave as part of a new mandate all member countries will have to put into effect by 2022. Nearby, in the U.K., no longer part of the EU, mothers get a whole year of parental leave, made up of 39 partially-paid weeks of leave and 12 fully-paid ones.
Upon reading that Switzerland significantly lags behind its European neighbors—even with 10 days of paternal leave on the books soon—it occurs to me once again how pathetic it is that the United States still has no universal paid family leave to speak of. As conservatives in the U.S. panic about falling birth rates, it continues to be lost on most of them how this connects to piss poor policies, which make it completely untenable to raise a child.
There is so much about American society that would have to change in order for people to feel that they could bring a child into a world and raise them in a safe environment—an end to police brutality, drastic action on climate change, and a complete transformation of our economic system are a few examples that immediately come to mind. Paid leave isn’t nearly enough. But it is a good place to start.