Working time after parental leave

Significant differences exist in the proportion of women working full time before and after taking parental leave for their first child, a recently published report reveals. The report also highlights working time differences by sector and occupation level.

In Sweden, compensation during parental leave is set at 16 months, of which 13 months are compensated at 80% of the previous income and three months at a fixed rate. In total, individual arrangements over four months are given to each parent, i.e. two months for mothers and two months for fathers. Parents can then choose how they divide the remaining 12 months between them. The legal right to take full-time parental leave is restricted to the child’s first 18 months; thereafter, parents have the right to decrease their working time by 25%, until the child is eight years old.

Key findings

A recent study, conducted by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen i Sverige , LO), examines the working time of men and women, both manual and professional workers, before and after taking parental leave for their first-born child. Key findings of the study are that:

  • more female manual or non-professional workers work part time than all other groups, both before and after parental leave;
  • female professional workers account for the largest decrease in working time after taking parental leave;
  • there is no significant decrease in working time for men after parental leave, either for professional or for manual workers.

In 2004, mothers took 81% of the total parental leave, while fathers took only 19%. This is equivalent to 14.3 months for mothers and 1.7 months for fathers. For fathers, this figure represents an increase of 7% since 1994. However, some 20% of fathers did not take any parental leave.

Full-time workers

Before taking parental leave, 94% of the men and 75% of the women were working full time. In the year (2002) after taking parental leave, the number of full-time working women decreased to 47%. For men, the decrease was marginal, at one percentage point. In 2003, the number of women working full time increased, but not to the levels they were at prior to taking parental leave.

Table 1: Full-time workers before and after parental leave (%)
Full-time workers before and after parental leave (%)
  Men Women
Before parental leave 94 75
After parental leave 93 47

Source: Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), 2005

Sectors and category of employment

The study highlights differences in working time before and after taking parental leave, between employees working in the private and public sectors, as well as between manual and professional workers.

In the public sector, non-professional employees work full time to a lesser extent than professional employees, both before and after parental leave. The decrease in the proportion of non-professional women who work full time after parental leave reduces an already low share of full-time workers.

As noted above, female professional employees account for the largest decrease in working time, both in the public (43 percentage points’ decrease) and in the private sector (34 percentage points’ decrease). The differences in working time widen significantly between female and male professional workers after returning from parental leave. However, in comparison to female non-professional workers, the decrease in working time is much more pronounced.

Full-time workers in the public sector, before and after parental leave (%)

Full-time workers in the public sector, before and after parental leave (%)

Source: Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), 2005

Full-time workers in the private sector, before and after parental leave

Full-time workers in the private sector, before and after parental leave

Source: Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), 2005

Average working time

In the study, an employee who decreases his/her working time from 100% to 99% is considered to be working part time. In order to understand by how much the working time decreases, the study considers the average working time before and after taking parental leave. It shows that female professional workers decrease their working time by 10 percentage points, while the decrease is smaller for female non-professional workers, at four percentage points. The results may indicate that professional workers have greater financial scope for reducing working time as parents.

Table 2: Average working time for all workers (full-time and part-time) before and after parental leave (% of full-time)
Average working time for all workers (full-time and part-time) before and after parental leave (% of full-time)
  Before parental leave After parental leave
  Men Women Men Women
Manual workers 97 85 96 81
Professional workers 99 97 99 87

Source: Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), 2005

About the study

The study was carried out by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) - the central organisation for 16 affiliates, representing manual workers in the private and public sectors.

Data from Statistics Sweden have been used in the study. The population studied included 950 women and 697 men, who had their first child in 2000-2001 and who, in the year prior to that, were employed.

Data are presented for part-time and full-time workers, categorised by sex, occupation level, and sector.

Source

Landsorganisationen i Sverige (LO), Föräldraledighet och arbetstid - hur mycket jobbar föräldrar som varit hemma med barn (Parental leave and working time ), Stockholm, 2005.

Further information

For further information on this topic, see the following EIRO articles on the government-appointed Commission on parental leave and benefits system (SE0406102N, SE0510103F).

 

 

 

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