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Created on 12.04.2023

Extending maternity leave to up to two years

Do you want to build a career despite working part-time or simply achieve the ideal work-life balance? Is having the option of taking unpaid leave or extending your maternity leave important to you? Do you want to take a temporary role and get to know a new professional field or receive support during advanced training? Find out more about the benefits for PostFinance employees here.

PostFinance employees benefit from attractive employment conditions and value-added services known as fringe benefits. A long-serving employee who has already made use of various benefits is Christine Hartmann. For example, she has twice extended her maternity leave to six months. She greatly appreciates being able to work part-time on her preferred days and that flexible working hours and working from home mean taking her child to daycare or unexpected visits to the doctor are no problem.

Portrait Christine Hartmann

Christine Hartmann-Wälti has been employed by the Swiss Post Group for 20 years. Since May 2022, she has been working at PostFinance in content marketing.

Christine, apart from part time work, what else was important to you when you found out you were pregnant?

I definitely wanted to stay at PostFinance. But I wanted to reduce my employment level from 80 to 60 percent, but also wanted my own fixed area of responsibility. Everything was new during my first pregnancy. We had no idea how our life with the baby would be. So it was important to have enough time to bond as a family. Thanks to 18 weeks of maternity leave and some unpaid leave, I was able to stay at home for a total of six months. During the first few weeks, my husband gave me his full support. He also works at PostFinance and when we had our first child in 2018, he was able to extend his two weeks’ paternity leave with another two weeks of holiday. That suited us perfectly so we did the same when we had our second child in 2021. There was one small difference: paternity leave at PostFinance had since been extended to four weeks.

How supportive was PostFinance throughout this time?

Very supportive. Each time, I spoke to my leader when I was four months pregnant and told my team. Luckily, all my requests could be accommodated so shortly afterwards, HR drew up a maternity agreement. We were in contact from time to time during my maternity leave, and then more frequently as I prepared to return to work. PostFinance supports parents financially with supplementary childcare support allowances. With our first child, we also benefited from cooperation with a daycare center close to the office in Bern. Now our two children go to the daycare center in our village.

What did you find challenging in relation to maternity leave?

I was kind of in awe of the six months' maternity leave. I was worried I might develop cabin fever over time. This fear was unfounded. I was kept busy finding my way into the dual role of wife and mother, and not forgetting myself in the process. I also wondered how I’d feel about returning to work after a six-month break. But that was no problem and I enjoyed talking about business with my colleagues, having more personal conversations during breaks and having a meal cooked for me in the Sportgastro staff restaurant at a special rate.

Would you recommend extending maternity leave to colleagues?

That’s a very personal decision. For us, the extension was just right and I’m grateful that we had more than five months to bond and have enough time for the cord-cutting process – after all, it wasn’t easy for our children, or for us, to settle them in someone else’s care.

Do you have any advice for new mums?

It’s definitely a good idea to reflect on your needs and expectations with your partner and the people around you at an early stage. If you choose daycare, you should be arranging this during your pregnancy and ideally get yourself on several waiting lists. Finding a good place is often difficult and can be time-consuming and stressful. But I’d recommend not driving yourself crazy, and not reading too many pregnancy books and other advice guides. Taking some “you time” on a regular basis is crucial. This was difficult for me at the start but these days, I enjoy the little breaks.

What to consider with regard to maternity leave

At some point anyone who is pregnant will have to deal with some key questions about maternity.

  • If you have issues, you can be signed off work partially or completely by a doctor and receive full pay. If you are absent for more than two months, your leave can be shortened.

  • Maternity leave starts on the day of the baby’s birth.

  • Mothers are entitled to at least 14 weeks of maternity leave. PostFinance grants 18 weeks of maternity leave.

  • Sick days during maternity leave cannot be taken at another time.

  • Usually, mothers on maternity leave receive 80 percent of their salary in the form of daily allowances but – under the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) – a maximum of 220 francs per day. At PostFinance, employees receive their full salary. Also, mothers who have to stay in hospital for more than two weeks after the birth are entitled to have their maternity compensation extended by a maximum of 56 days.

  • After the baby’s birth, mothers cannot be employed for eight weeks. Also, they are protected under employment law from losing their job during the pregnancy and for 16 weeks from the birth date.

  • A recent change means fathers can now take two weeks paternity leave within six months of the birth date. PostFinance grants four weeks of paternity leave.

  • It depends on the form the extension takes. In the case of overtime compensation or annual leave, there are no effects. But there are with unpaid leave .

  • According to legislation, a maximum of two additional weeks can be taken but mothers do not receive any maternity pay for this period. Everything else depends on the goodwill of the employer. At PostFinance, maternity leave can be extended to up to two years – and by up to a year with the guarantee of being able to return to the same job.

  • There are cantonal child allowances. PostFinance also offers supplementary childcare support allowances. In the city of Bern, PostFinance also subsidizes daycare places, thanks to a cooperation agreement.

Attracting employees with fringe benefits

Christine Hartmann’s exciting career path highlights the value of attractive employment conditions and the support for employees. In 2006, she completed her apprenticeship in the retail sector and worked at Swiss Post for a total of seven years before moving to PostFinance – first in the back office, and then in process management. She came to Marketing via a temporary role change and a subsequent internal job change. From 2014 to 2017, she achieved her dream of completing training at the HFW Business School with the support of PostFinance. To do this, she reduced her employment level to 80 percent. Since 2022, the mother of two has been working part-time in content marketing and with a colleague to train mediamatics apprentices and will soon be embarking on her next training course.

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