Women return to work after maternity leave quicker than before
In Finland, mothers return to their work places after family leaves quicker than before. In fact, in 2018 more mothers with small children were employed compared to 2014. During those five years, mother's employment rate also increased by three percentage points.
According to Statistics Finland's annual Labour Force Survey, in 2018 the employment rate of mothers with small children had increased more than that of women without children. And the increase was highest for mothers with children aged between one and two.
The survey shows that the improved economic cycle enjoyed in those years is visible also in mothers returning to work quicker from maternity leaves. Five years before, 53% of mothers with children aged between one and two were employed but in 2018 as many as 58%. When the youngest child is aged between three and six, mothers' employment rate has risen from 82% to 84% over the same period. And the employment of mothers with older children also rose by two percentage points.
Source: Statistics Finland.
At the same time, the proportion of mothers on family leave or taking care of their children at home with no employment contract has decreased.
Education has a connection to employment
Statistics Finland highlights how mothers' education has, also in this case, a connection to employment. Mothers with higher education (tertiary level) often have a valid employment contract throughout their family leave and they also return to work faster than others.
Figures show that, among those most educated women, 65% had returned to work when the youngest child in the family was aged between one and two in 2018. Among mothers of children in this same age group who have not acquired post-basic level education, only 21% had returned to work. The share for those mothers with upper secondary level qualifications was 53%.
Regardless of the level of education, in those cases in which the mother had a job before maternity leave, 78% went back to work when the youngest child was aged between one and two and nearly all mothers were working when the child was aged between three and six.
Among mothers without post-basic education, 54% did not have a valid employment contract during their family leave. The rates were 22% for those with upper secondary level qualifications and 10% for those with tertiary education.
15% of employed mothers (and just under 4% of fathers) with children under the age of 18 worked part-time in 2018. Among mothers, part-time work was most common when the youngest kid was aged between one and two. Approximately one in four mothers worked part-time at that stage. When the children grow, mothers usually start to work more full-time. For example, 11% of mothers of school-age children worked part-time in 2018.
According to Statistics Finland, 56% of mothers with children under school-age that worked part-time did so because of caring for children or other relatives. On the other hand, 25% of mothers with children under school-age working part-time said they would have liked to have a full-time job, but it was not possible. 38% of mothers, whose youngest child was aged between 7 and 17 would have wanted to have a full-time job.
This situation was, however, better than in 2014, when 45% of mothers in the corresponding group worked part-time because no full-time job was available.