Most elected officials in Switzerland have full-time jobs outside politics and undertake their political work on a part time basis.
According to research by RTS, more than 1,000 people across all levels of government (federal, cantonal and communal) get some sort of financial help from their employer, typically in the form of paid leave, to help them balance their work and political careers.
The industries employing the largest numbers of politicians and elected officials are banking, insurance and pharmaceuticals.
Big banks and insurance companies lead the way. Credit Suisse, Zurich, Swiss Life, AXA and La Mobilière offer paid leave for public office activities equivalent to 20% of work time, according to RTS. This works out at 45 days a year. Others such as Zürcher Kantonalbank (22 days), Swiss Re (20 days), Suva (15 days) and Helsana (15 days) offer paid leave too. Other big banks such as UBS, Raiffeisen and the BCV didn’t provide figures.
Across government, UBS and Credit Suisse are the best represented, with around 300 employees each holding a public mandate, according to RTS. For Credit Suisse, which offers one day per week, the annual cost of this financial support could be as high as CHF 7 million.
At a federal level there are 10 members of parliament who work for one of these big companies offering paid leave. Some, but not all, have recorded the name of their employer in the parliamentary register of interests, wrote RTS.
With new rules coming into force soon, following updates to Switzerland’s parliamentary laws, more transparency will be required.