About 500 employees who had been on maternity or paternity leave during 2011 responded to a survey done by the business administrators’ union Civilekonomerna. Half said they had been expected to work at some point, with men twice as likely as women to pitch in despite being on leave.
“It’s tough for guys my age with quite advanced jobs to just let everything go and be away for six months,” said one survey respondent.
“I felt I had to offer to work during my paternity leave.”
Thirty-two percent of men said they were expected to work, while about 17 percent of women said they felt the same kind of pressure. The union reviewed statistics and concluded that the discrepancy between the genders could not be explained by men taking shorter leave than women.
There were mixed responses about how much time was expected of the employees while on leave. A third said their employer brought them in to do chores between one to five hours a week. Another nine percent said they pitched in six to ten hours a work, while seven percent said they had spent at least ten hours per week of their leave working.
The respondents said they had either volunteered to work or felt pressured to work. Two thirds said they had been contacted by their employer at some point during their leave, mostly about doing work-related tasks. But there were also requests of administrative or social nature – scheduling wage talks or inviting the employee on leave to join a social work function.
Overall, a third of women and almost one in ten of men said they thought being on parental leave was bad for their career.
“This is a watershed issue. A modern and attractive employer has to give employees on leave good conditions and regard the leave as part of their career development,” union negotiator Mikael Andersson said in a statement by Civilekonomerna.