Cooperation between employers and employees regarding parental leave

Only 12% of companies provide employees with support in updating their skills when returning to work after a period of parental leave, according to survey findings. In this regard, larger companies are more likely to offer suitable training options than smaller companies. Approximately one fifth of companies allow their employees on parental leave to earn extra money by working during their leave period.

Interrupting one’s career to take parental leave has been an option in the Czech Republic, in comparison with other European countries, for a relatively long period of time. Until a child reaches the age of three years, employees with children are guaranteed the possibility of returning to their original job following a period of parental leave. However, employers do not have to adhere to this obligation if they decide to restructure the workforce or change the production programme. In some professions, a three-year absence is considered too long a time to maintain the required qualifications to continue the job without knowledge of developments in the profession or ongoing practice.

Survey on return-to-work options

Cooperation between employers and employees in relation to parental leave, particularly for women, was one of the areas of research carried out within the framework of the EQUAL project, entitled ‘The role of equal opportunities for women and men in society’s prosperity’. Questions related to the various forms of cooperation that can contribute to a parent’s speedier return to their original job constituted part of regular monthly surveys carried out by the Czech Statistical Office (Ceský statistický úrad, CSÚ). The surveys were conducted in various companies in the industrial, construction and sales sectors, as well as in some branches of the services sector. Responses were obtained from 2,202 companies of various sizes.

Possibility for homeworking

The least common type of cooperation is the option enabling an employee to work from home. This option was offered by less than 4% of companies, regardless of their size and structure. While there were scarcely any differences founding this respect according to sector, nevertheless, this form of cooperation appeared to occur slightly more often in the industrial and services sectors.

Attending workshops and training

A relatively higher percentage of companies allow employees on parental leave to take part in workshops and training courses to keep their qualifications and skills up to date. These type of courses are offered by 12% of companies, with bigger enterprises more often offering them than smaller companies. The relatively low percentage of companies offering courses aimed at maintaining, changing or increasing the qualifications of employees on parental leave is apparently related to the fact that employers, to a certain extent, depend on other institutions specialising in such activities.

Working while on parental leave

The results show that the most common type of cooperation between employers and employees on parental leave is the possibility of working while on parental leave. Almost 8% of parents earn extra money in this way in about 20% of the companies surveyed, which corresponds to a total of 4% of all parents on parental leave. The percentage of companies that allow such parents to earn extra pay increases according to the size of the company. In terms of sector, such cooperation is above average in the industrial and sales sectors. This form of cooperation is also more common in companies that have a higher representation of women with a lower level of education.

Proportion of companies where employees work during parental leave (%)
Proportion of companies where employees work during parental leave (%)
  Size of company according to number of employees
  Up to 25 employees 26–99 employees 100–249 employees 250–499 employees 500 employees Total
Yes 4.6 11.4 20.3 35 42.1 21.4
No 95.4 88.6 79.7 65 57.9 78.6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100

Source: Work–family harmonisation in EQUAL – The role of equal opportunity for women and men in the prosperity of society

Cooperation based on agreements

Other types of cooperation, mainly work based on either an agreement regarding the performance of work tasks or an agreement on work activities concluded with the parents on parental leave, are indicated by only 2% of the companies included in the study.

Commentary

The findings show that larger companies provide more possibilities for cooperation than smaller companies. Nevertheless, companies generally do not demonstrate a high level of cooperation with their employees in relation to taking parental leave to care for children. The extent and effectiveness of this cooperation cannot be precisely identified within the framework of the survey.

It should also be noted that a more active approach to cooperation could be demonstrated by both employers and employees. From the employers’ perspective, parents do not show great interest in cooperation. A significant role, however, is played by the size of the company: the bigger the company, the more active is the company’s approach to its employees in terms of parental leave. The greatest passivity is registered by employers in construction, where however the proportion of women is generally quite small; conversely, greater motivation to maintain contact with the employer can be seen in the more attractive economic areas, such as financial services or the energy sector.

Sylva Ettlerová, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs (VÚPSV)

 

 

 

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