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Family allowances: The administrative jungle

Priority beneficiaries and differences between cantons

The administration of family allowances is a complex and confusing area. Between federal and cantonal laws, types of allowances and eligibility conditions, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of this administration!

At ekspert, an Abacus partner specialising in payroll management and HR administration, we understand the subtleties and challenges involved.

To better understand where our added value lies, let’s analyse together a situation that may seem simple at first sight, that of a child whose parents are both eligible for family allowances.

How do you know who has priority?

By law, only one allowance can be paid per child. In this case, the following order of priority applies:

  1. Employed person: If one parent is employed and the other is not, the employed parent receives the allowance.
  2. The person with parental authority: If both parents work, the one with parental authority (or who had it until the child came of age) has priority.
  3. The person living mainly with the child: If parental authority is held jointly or if neither parent has it, the parent living mainly with the child has priority.
  4. The child’s canton of residence: If both parents live with the child, the parent who works in the child’s canton of residence has priority.
  5. Highest income: -If both parents work in the child’s canton of residence, or if neither parent works in that canton, the parent with the highest income subject to AHV is given priority. -If neither parent has a salaried income, the parent with the highest self-employed income has priority.

What if the parents work in different cantons?

The situation becomes more complex: the parent with the highest income, whether employed or self-employed, is given priority. However, if the non-priority parent lives in a canton offering higher benefits, he or she can receive the difference between the two cantons’ benefit amounts. Please note, that this difference is only paid if the parent is gainfully employed; otherwise, no additional allowance is paid.

What if the parents are divorced?

It is therefore essential to determine who has parental authority. If it is shared, the order of priority follows the same rules as for non-divorced parents. The situation of each parent must be examined carefully, taking into account whether they are gainfully employed and the child’s canton of residence.


ekspert’s aim is to simplify this process for our customers, by offering a quality service and in-depth expertise.

Companies can thus free themselves from administrative constraints, with complete confidence that their obligations will be carried out accurately and in compliance with legislation.

As you can see, by entrusting the management of their family allowances to ekspert, an Abacus partner specialising in payroll management and the associated administrative procedures, companies are a double winner!

Next article

Our series on family allowances continues! We’ll be back shortly with our next article on training allowances. See you soon!

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