– January 18, 2023

My child is sick. Am I entitled to free days?

Children need their parents – especially when they are sick and need care. But today very often, both parents work and cannot simply stay away from work. What applies if your own child is sick in bed?

In such cases, parents do not have to immediately take the free days for care through their vacation entitlement. Employers must give their employees with family obligations the necessary time to care for their sick children in accordance with Art. 36 Para. 1 ArG. As a general rule, employees who present a doctor’s certificate are entitled to up to three days off at a time to care for their children in accordance with Art. 36 para. 3 ArG. This applies per case of illness and child up to 15 years of age, depending on the child’s age and state of health. Each doctor’s certificate attesting to the illness of one’s own child renews this entitlement by three free days. The limit of three days is not absolute. In individual cases, a longer exemption from work may be justified.

Nevertheless, it is the parents’ duty to seek an alternative solution for the child’s care in case of prolonged illness of the child. However, if the parents’ presence is necessary and outside care is unreasonable, for example, if an infant becomes seriously ill, then this obligation does not apply. If one’s own child recovers before the end of the three days, the parents are obliged to resume work.

Furthermore, if an older child is sick at home, there is a right to a lunch break of at least 1.5 hours according to Art. 36 Para. 2 ArG, and overtime may also be refused during this time.

If a parent takes days off to care for his or her sick child, the vacation entitlement may not be reduced pursuant to Art. 329b para. 2 CO if the care days do not exceed one month per year.

If employees are prevented from working due to personal circumstances through no fault of their own, including the care of their child, the employer is obliged – as if the parent were ill himself – to continue to pay the salary for a certain period of time in accordance with Art. 324a para. 1 CO. In the case of fixed-term employment relationships, the right to continued payment of wages only applies if the employment contract was concluded for a period of at least three months. In this case, the obligation to continue to pay wages applies from the first day. In the case of permanent employment relationships, it starts from the fourth month of employment. In concrete terms, this means that the parent caring for the sick child receives full pay for the three days. If it is necessary to care for the sick child for a longer period of time, the parent is entitled to an appropriately longer continuation of salary payment, which is dependent on the number of years of service and is based on the regional salary continuation scales developed by court practice (Berner Skala, Züricher Skala or Basler Skala). This is subject to any other express provision in the employment contract, in the employment regulations or, if applicable, in a collective employment agreement.

If you have any questions regarding employment law, our lawyers will be happy to advise you.