Care: This is how the Federal Council wants to improve working conditions

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care initiative

Wage supplements and long-term rosters: This is how the Federal Council wants to make the nursing profession more attractive

In order to stop the exodus from the nursing profession, the Federal Council wants to improve the working conditions of nursing professionals. The proposals have met with approval in the industry – with a few exceptions.

The electorate accepted the care initiative on November 28, 2021 with over 60 percent in favor.

Image: Sandra Ardizzone

The Federal Council is moving forward with the implementation of the care initiative. Last May he had already decided on a training offensive with support contributions of up to one billion Swiss francs over eight years. In a second stage, the federal administration is now dealing with the question of how the working conditions of nursing staff can be improved. On Wednesday, the Federal Council decided that the Interior Department, together with the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Federal Office of Justice, should draw up a new law.

“The aim of this law is that we can prevent or at least reduce premature exits from the nursing profession,” Health Minister Alain Berset told the media. For this purpose, it should be stipulated by law, among other things, that hospitals, retirement homes and Spitex organizations must determine the duty rosters of their employees at least four weeks in advance. If there are short-term shift changes or unplanned work assignments because someone is absent, the employer is obliged to pay a wage supplement.

Social partners should negotiate about CLA

Since the competences of the federal government are “limited”, according to Berset, further measures to improve working conditions should be discussed in talks between the social partners. The Federal Council also wants to create a legal basis for this: it obliges the social partners to start negotiations on a collective labor agreement. “Agreements could be made about higher minimum wages or a 24-hour daycare offer financed by the employer,” the Federal Council proposes.

Above all, the intended measures have one thing in common: They primarily have the character of a recommendation. It is unclear whether the new law will actually lead to concrete improvements for nursing staff.

Federal President Alain Berset presented the second implementation stage of the care initiative to the media on Wednesday.

Federal President Alain Berset presented the second implementation stage of the care initiative to the media on Wednesday.

Image: Anthony Anex / Keystone

Nevertheless, the government’s proposal is generally supported by the professional association of nursing professionals SBK: “The Federal Council recognizes that we are in a difficult situation and must now act quickly,” explains SBK Managing Director Yvonne Ribi on request. The association welcomes the measures in the area of ​​duty scheduling, but would have liked the Federal Council to make specific provisions on recovery times and a more binding proposal for financing: “It is foreseeable that the proposed measures will lead to additional costs. How these are to be financed is left open by the Federal Council.” Ribi fears that the costs will ultimately be pinned on the employers, who then refrain from making improvements or further increasing the pressure on care.

The law will come into force in 2027 at the earliest

The conference of cantonal health directors (GDK) is also pleased “that the need for action in view of the tense personnel situation in many places is also recognized by politicians”. The GDK does not yet want to comment on the specific proposals. Nevertheless, GDK spokesman Tobias Bär points out that “every measure must be financed via tariffs with tax and premium money”. This aspect must also be taken into account.

To the annoyance of SBK Managing Director Yvonne Ribi, it will probably take a few more years for the new law to come into force. The administration has until April 2024 to draw up a draft law, which will then go into consultation. This is followed by deliberation in Parliament. Health Minister Berset therefore expects the provisions to come into force in 2027 at the earliest.

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