The labour market participation of men and women in Switzerland is very high by European standards, and has increased over the past 25 years, particularly for women. However, family obligations such as childcare or looking after relatives can be a challenge for families. For mothers in particular, starting a family is a key factor influencing participation in the labour market. The birth of a child usually means that mothers reduce their working hours or sometimes even stop working altogether. This in turn means that an important pool of skilled workers is going unused. Through appropriate framework conditions that allow people to better reconcile family and work, this pool of potential skilled workers can be better utilised.
The decision to stay in or re-enter the labour market can be dictated by inappropriate working conditions, the availability and cost of childcare options outside the family, and disincentives to work. The latter may, for example, be due to the high cost of external childcare or to bracket creep in income taxes: in terms of the family budget, it makes little sense for the second partner to increase their working week if the extra income generated is lower than the additional costs incurred for childcare and to cover higher taxes.
In order to better reconcile family obligations with employment, government policy on skilled labour is therefore focused largely on developing a range of high-quality and affordable childcare options outside the family, promoting working conditions that support work-life balance within companies, and eliminating disincentives to work through the tax system.