4 hurdles returning back to work

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Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience full of joy, love, and countless new responsibilities. Returning to work after maternity leave can be both an exciting and challenging experience. Even though you're happy to dive back into your professional life, there are often challenges and concerns that can make the transition feel overwhelming. In the following, we present four hurdles that parents in Switzerland must consider when returning to work.

1) Workload

Mothers and fathers often work part-time or as freelancers as soon as they start a family. In accordance with BFS, in Switzerland, three times more women (58%) than men (19%) work part time — with this quota of women, we are on the second place compared to the other member states of the European Union. The Federal Office cites childcare and family obligations as reasons for the high percentage. This may be related, among other things, to maternity and paternity leave. Mothers in Switzerland have the right to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, while fathers only have 10 days of paternity leave.

Tip: While you're pregnant, it's best to think about how you and your partner want to divide up family work in the future. Would any of you rather do the chores at home or would you like to take a longer break from work? Does your partner want days of care? Which of you two is happier at work or earns more? Do you both want to work part time?

2) Job search

Looking for a job after the baby break can be a real challenge for parents, as time must now be included for childcare and attention must be paid to daycare opening hours. In addition, self-doubt can arise after a long break from paid work. Am I up to the new obligations combined with childcare? How much did I miss out on in my industry?

Tip: Use your time off as an opportunity for self-reflection and to identify new skills. Ask yourself what changed you during the break and what new perspectives and values you discovered. Look at the experiences you've gained during this time and how it could be useful to your existing or new employer.

3) Child care

Returning to work after parental leave is a challenge for many couples or single parents, especially when it comes to finding suitable childcare. On the one hand, it is difficult to find a daycare place at all, as there are currently 7,000 daycare places missing in Switzerland. On the other hand, parents must register well in advance to find a place at all. This is then often not nearby and makes everyday life even more difficult.

Tip: Consider all possible care options, such as daycare, childminders, babysitters or family members, and decide what is the right choice for your situation or how you can combine the offers to ensure optimal care for your child. Consider factors such as safety, quality, costs, distance from the care facility, and flexibility of the various options.

nidino 2023

4) Pay gaps

After the birth of a child, many parents reduce their employment or no longer work at all. Self-care of the child therefore leads to a loss of income and entails additional costs arising from the needs of the newborn. “Around 18% of mothers return to work after 14 weeks of maternity leave. Those who could afford it are extending their time at home with the addition of their family,” says Managing Director Nadine Hoch from the Federal Commission for Family issues. The expert suggests a rethink of retirement planning, particularly in the pension fund. Since this is based solely on employment, people with reduced workload and work breaks would be at a clear disadvantage.

Tip: Learn about parental leave and part-time work regulations, explore flexible working models, and plan your finances ahead to prevent pay gaps following the birth of a child. Maintain professional skills and networks, consider alternative retirement options and use potential support from the employer for a successful return to working life.


Returning to work after maternity leave poses a number of hurdles for parents in Switzerland, including the challenge of childcare and potential wage gaps due to reduced employment. It is advisable to use flexible working models, plan finances ahead, maintain professional skills, and explore alternative retirement options to ensure a smooth return to work. With planning, support, and a willingness to be flexible, parents can successfully overcome the challenges of having a child and find a fulfilling balance between family and career.


  • Statista, European Union: Parttime employment as a share of total employment in the Member States¹ ² ³ ⁴ broken down by sex in the first quarter of 2023
  • BFS, Swiss Labour Force Survey (SAKE), 2022
  • Nau, wage inequality: Expert calls for a reorientation of the debate, 2023