Facilitation of Employability for Maternity and Parental Leavers in Europe: A Scoping Review
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This report presents the findings of an European project concerning facilitation of employability for parental leavers in European countries. The conclusions and recommendations in this report build on comparisons of relevant European policy documents, country nates from five European countries (France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovakia) and a search in relevant databases. Taken together, these data form an approximate scoping review - to map a wide range of literature. Both the concepts of maternal and parental leave are used in the present report. Research related to leave in connection with young children use the term maternity leave until the last decades where more frequent parental leave is used. We are aware that a distinction between parental and maternity leave does not apply in same countries. A main finding is that parental leave and employability is a complex and context sensitive area. This relates to the fact that parental leave must be seen in connection with both individual, organisational, cultural, historical and political (legislative) issues on both national and European level. In this study, the focus has been mainly descriptive on the political (legislative) level, while a more interpretative analysis is made on how to develop tools and educational programs concerning development of employability skills relevant for parental leavers and employers. Analysis of the situation regarding parental leavers' employment in the partner countries shows that maternal employment in France, Slovakia and Hungary is rather low. Although, in Hungary there are networks which provide special counselling for women and support them when it comes to their (re)integration into the labour market. In Western Europe, such as the Netherlands and Norway, the situation is more favourable, employers are more flexible and part-time job is a frequent option offered. However, the up-to-date level of skills of parental leavers coming back to work may be a challenge in these countries too. The duration and generosity of paid parental leave seems to affect when (after what time) parents return to work. The period of leave cannot be too short, nor too long. The optimal length of the leave varies greatly depending on national conditions and cultural frameworks. In any case, it should not be so long that the parental leavers become uninteresting for the labour market and lose working competence (Kalb, 2018; Whitehouse, Romaniuk, Lucas & Nicholson, 2013).