Return-to-job during and after parental leave

Fitzenberger B, Steffes S, Strittmatter A (2016)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2016


Book Volume: 27

Pages Range: 803-831

Journal Issue: 8

DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2015.1037328


Despite a rising career orientation among females and growing efforts of firms to alleviate work–family conflicts, female employees often find it difficult to combine career development with having children. Female careers appear more boundaryless than male careers, and gender differences in the sociological role model persist. Using exceptional longitudinal company data, this paper studies the return-to-job of female employees after first birth in the case of Germany with long Parental Leave coverage. Parental Leave durations often last for 3 years or longer. Our results show that more than 50% of those in Parental Leave do not return to their job afterwards. About 31% of female employees return to part-time work during Parental Leave, and among these, only 57% continue working in their job after the end of Parental Leave. And, having returned to their job after the end of Parental Leave, only 81% continue to work in their job one year after return. Furthermore, female employees have their first child, when their careers have been particularly successful. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the view that the birth of the first child and the experience of the subsequent work–life conflict can lead to a major reassessment of work preferences among female employees. Although a higher career orientation before birth is positively associated with a return-to-job, management must be aware that a sizeable share of female employees, even among the most career oriented and the most successful, may not return to their job after first birth.

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Fitzenberger, B., Steffes, S., & Strittmatter, A. (2016). Return-to-job during and after parental leave. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(8), 803-831.


Fitzenberger, Bernd, Susanne Steffes, and Anthony Strittmatter. "Return-to-job during and after parental leave." International Journal of Human Resource Management 27.8 (2016): 803-831.

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