Photo Hugues Siegenthaler

The city of Lausanne participates to a study on the impact of paternity leave

During the NCCR LIVES’ 2012 “Doctoriales”, from February 13 to 14, Isabel Valarino presented a thesis project which aims to analyze the influence of the emergence of parental leave on the representations and practices of fatherhood. 20 fathers working in the administration of Lausanne will be interviewed.

Graduate assistant at the Life and Social Inequality Research Center (LINES) and member of LIVES’ IP 6, "Vulnerability at the interface of family and professional life: Gender and occupational differentials”, Isabel Valarino recently received the agreement of the Municipality to access the young fathers of the Lausanne's administration. In the coming months, she plans to interview 20 men who took advantage of paternity leave and 5 managers who have dealt with his absence. The City of Lausanne has been offering since mid-2010 a 21-day paternity leave to male employees, who represent a potential of nearly 100 people per year.

These qualitative interviews are one focus of the researcher, who will also conduct a quantitative study of all men who beneficiated of the paternity leave provided by the City of Lausanne, in order to compare those who took three full weeks with those who decided to quit only for a few days. In her thesis, the PhD student is also interested in the evolution of cultural values carried by the debate on paternity leave in the media, and the evolution of political and institutional debate, which is analyzed on the basis of various interventions at the federal Parliament and answers which followed.

According to Isabel Valarino, "Parental leave policies in Switzerland are gendered. Currently mothers only are defined as legitimate caregivers by the law." However, she assumes that although Switzerland, unlike many of its European neighbors, has yet no paternity or parental leave provided for by law, the debate surrounding this issue and the introduction of voluntary or negotiated right by some employers nevertheless participate in constructing representations and practices of fatherhood, going towards a greater investment of men in the education of their children.