What does the closure of schools, daycare, etc. mean for employees?

The Federal Council has decided to close schools and childcare facilities nationwide and at all levels. What does this mean for working parents?

The answer in detail

Read the impact of the latest developments in our legal tip Corona: The latest federal decisions and their effects

Corona: Closing the schools - what does that mean to me?

As at March 12, 2021

Due to the current coronavirus situation, it is possible for authorities to order schools to be closed or classes to be sent into quarantine. This poses challenges for employees and employers alike – especially because the Federal Council advises against the involvement of grandparents in childcare. Older people are a risk group and should especially be protected.

What do such measures mean in concrete terms for working parents?

MyRight has compiled some answers to possible questions. We would like to point out that a situation such as this at this scale is unprecedented and there is therefore a lack of empirical data across Switzerland.
We absolutely recommend that you ensure good coordination with your employer and to try to find a joint solution. After all, this situation is also extraordinary and particularly challenging for your employer.

Am I obligated to ensure the care of my children so that I can work?

If possible, childcare must be organized in such a way that you can go to work. However, you also have a legal obligation to care for your children. If there is no other option, you can, as an exception, stay home from work to care for your children. You are obligated to organize alternative care as quickly as possible. Maybe you can take turns with your partner? Are there other families in the neighborhood with whom you can group together for childcare? Are there other options within the family? When making arrangements, please consider the infection risk for older people who are in a risk group.

Do I have to take vacation if my child has to stay at home by order of the authorities?

Based on the legal obligation to care for children, parents can stay home for a limited time (see Art. 324a of the Swiss Code of Obligations). As a general rule, this is usually three days. However, there is disagreement as to whether the employer is obligated to keep paying their salary. Moreover, parents must make an effort to find another solution for childcare as quickly as possible to prevent longer absence. To prevent disputes with your employer, it is definitely advisable to coordinate with them in advance. If you have to stay home from work for a longer period of time to care for your child/children, then work with your employer to find a solution, such as taking vacation allowance or reducing overtime.

I have to take leave because I do not have a childcare solution for my children and the schools remain closed due to the current situation. Will I receive compensation for the time in which I cannot work?

On the "Entschädigung für Erwerbsausfall bei Massnahmen gegen das Coronavirus” (compensation for loss of earnings due to measures to combat the coronavirus) page of the federal government, you will find a list of the situations in which compensation can be claimed in accordance with the COVID-19 Act of September 25, 2020.

When schools open up again, can I keep my children at home if I am afraid they will be infected with the coronavirus at school?

In this case, the legal situation is clear: Parents do not have the right to keep their children at home merely because they fear their children will contract the virus at school.

What obligations do schools have?

Schools are obligated to comply with the recommendations issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the orders of the cantons and to inform themselves, for example, about any hygiene measures they may need to take. Schools may be shut down in response to orders issued by the health authorities if there is real danger of infection.

The canton has issued an order for our municipality that daycare and after-school care facilities may not care for children for the time being because of the coronavirus. Do I still have to pay the fees for the daycare or after-school care?

We would initially advise you to consult your contract. Unless specified, you can assume that the contracts are suspended for the duration of the closure. That means that you do not need to pay for the time in which your child cannot go to childcare because of official orders of the authorities. As the daycare or after-school care center cannot provide their services for a while due to the ordered closure, even termination of the contract is conceivable. However, no compensation for damages is due.

We advise you to contact the daycare or after-school care center in good time and try to find a suitable solution (e.g. waive the duty to pay for the duration of the closure or terminate the contract) and to document this in writing (including signature).

Please note: If you decide not to send your child to daycare or after-school care of your own volition due to the current situation, you must continue to pay.

You can find the latest information at any time on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Find out more on the current developments and the effects of the pandemic on our free time and working lives in our legal tips: