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PARENTING

Superdad wields umbrella in evil sun ray battle

First-time dad Joel Sherwood curses the few short days of summer as he walks around backwards pointing an angry umbrella at the skies.

Superdad wields umbrella in evil sun ray battle

Being recently compelled to walk around under an umbrella on a sunny day got me thinking.

As I strolled along a shore in southern Sweden, trying to enjoy a beautiful weekend afternoon but at the same time battling to keep direct sunlight as far away as possible, I reflected on how I came to be doing such a thing.

The simple answer is that babies shouldn’t be in sun for the first year of life, our nurse told us. So if it’s clear skies and we’re out and about, we have to do what it takes to keep any and all sunshine off the kid’s skin.

But it was some of the details in carrying out this sun-fighting task that I pondered.

I thought about the lengths I’m going to in order to follow this no-sun rule. Such as taking frantic cover under an umbrella when there’s not a cloud in the sky. Or making sure the patch of shade we’re picnicking in has absolutely no spots of sun seeping through. Or walking backwards for a stretch, using my body as a shield, if I’m heading in the direction of a low sitting sun and I’m without adequate gear (like my trusty umbrella).

I gave serious thought to more enhanced baby clothing solutions that would provide a leg up in our year-long sun battle. Our child on this afternoon, for example, was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks, a sun hat and sunglasses as I baby-bjorned her around.

Pretty well covered, I thought. But not completely covered. Her hands would be exposed to a direct hit if she decided to wave them outside of the umbrella’s shadow, I fretted. So I wondered if manufacturers make baby sun protection gloves. If not, why not! And if so, why didn’t our family have these yet?

Or maybe instead of messing around with accessories, why not just go for a head-to-toe suit of sun-deflecting armour, I mulled. Apparently for kids in Australia, there are these full-body UV ray-repelling suits they slip into for a day at the beach. Maybe we should import one of those?

But I also got to thinking how I seem to be the only one walking around with an umbrella. You see lots of parents lugging around their tiny kids, but very few with an actual umbrella out and open on sunny days. I didn’t recall seeing much backward walking from others either.

Why is this? One possible answer, I allowed, is that I am the best parent in the world, going that extra mile to protect my child while other, less-super parents let their children fry.

Another possible, but much less likely, answer is that I had caught some severe first parent-itis symptoms of over-protectiveness.

Yet another possibility is that a little sun doesn’t really do much harm. This may be true, but I quickly concluded such a hypothesis is way too risky for a super parent to test.

Most of all, what I thought about were clouds, and when it would finally get overcast and hazy again.

Such a thought was personally counter-intuitive because I, like most, prefer good weather to bad. I also realized it’s essentially high treason to wish away sunshine in Sweden, a country that dearly appreciates the few rays it gets.

But please, give me a break. I’m walking around in the sun under an umbrella.

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PARENTING

How does paternity leave work in Switzerland – and who can claim it?

Paternity leave is approved in Switzerland, but not all fathers can claim the benefit. Here’s what you need to know.

How does paternity leave work in Switzerland - and who can claim it?
Switzerland voted in support of paternity leave. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland’s Autumn referendums were held on September 27th, 2020, with voters deciding five important questions. 

EXPLAINED: How Switzerland voted in Sunday’s referendums 

The voting hinted at a shift in Switzerland’s rather traditional approach to family models and gender roles, with more than 60 percent of ballots cast in favour of offering paternity leave for the first time.

Philippe Gnaegi, director of Pro Famila, said the result showed a shift in gender dynamics in Switzerland. 

“This result shows that society has evolved and that a model where women have to stay at home is no longer appropriate for the times.” 

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said the high turnout and strong majority for the vote showcased how important it was to modern Switzerland. 

“Very good news for families,” Berset said. 

The plan is expected to cost the Swiss government CHF230 million per year. 

Adrian Wuthrich, head of the trade union federation Travailsuisse and a supporter of the paternity leave push, hailed Sunday’s result. 

New fathers “finally get more time off than they would for a move,” he told the RTS public broadcaster, stressing though that two weeks should be seen as a minimum.

The battle for parental leave

Switzerland, which did not grant women the right to vote until 1971, still lags behind much of Europe when it comes to parental leave.

Several attempts to grant paternity leave to fathers have failed. 

While some companies and public sector employers have parental leave schemes which allow fathers to take periods of time off, there was no federally mandated minimum leave period. 

The country first introduced 14 weeks paid maternity leave in 2005 and has until now offered no paternity leave, with new fathers legally entitled to take only one day — the same amount of time granted when moving house.

The Swiss parliament gave the green light for the two-weeks paternity leave last September, but (SVP) and other opponents had gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum, arguing that taxpayers should not be asked to cover “holidays” for new fathers.

How does paternity leave look in Switzerland – and who can claim it?

Paternity leave, like maternity leave, offers Swiss parents 80 percent of their salary, up to a ceiling of 196 Swiss francs per day.

The money will be paid under the state-run compensation scheme. 

Fathers can thus receive a maximum of 2,744 Swiss francs ($3,000, 2,550 euros) during their two weeks of leave.

The ‘two weeks’ is actually ten days, but when taken with weekends it works out to a 14-day period. 

The days do not however all need to be taken at once. As reported in Swiss daily 20 Minutes, fathers could elect to take one day off per week for ten weeks. 

The leave must be taken during the first six months of the child’s life. 

Only biological fathers are entitled to claim the leave. 

Fathers will be eligible for the benefit after five months of working in Switzerland, and must have made at least nine months of contributions to the Swiss pension scheme. 

The scheme has applied from January 1st, 2021, meaning it will not be available for fathers of babies born before that date. 

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