the majority of women continue to work part-time when the children grow up

NOS / Bart Kamphuis

NOS NewsChanged

Most women who started working part-time after having children will continue to do so when their children grow up. The Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) examines in a new report why these women with ‘big children’ continue to work relatively little, even after their caring responsibilities have been reduced.

The researchers see that much policy is aimed at young mothers and less at this ‘forgotten group’.

“When we think of part-time work, we think of mothers with young children,” says SCP researcher Wil Portegijs. “That’s why the measures are also aimed at that: think about childcare, parental leave or a combination discount.”

Largest group

There are hardly any incentives for older mothers, she says. She calls this a pity: “Because the largest group of women who work part-time no longer have small children, so there is a great work potential there.” If these women would work more, it could solve shortages. “Also in health and education, because many women work there.”

It is well known that the Netherlands champions part-time work, but the shortage in the labor market means that more staff are badly needed. It also helps the emancipation of women. Women are more likely to work full-time: they become financially independent and have a better chance of finding higher positions, according to SCP.

From 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m

Half of the mothers started working more when their children got older. Especially women who did not work or only worked one or two days when their children were small did this. On average, mothers’ working week increased by almost a day, from 13.9 to 21 hours. This includes mothers who do not work at all. If you don’t include that, the average is 25.5 hours.

Three-quarters of women who have returned to work or more indicated that reduced care for their child played a role. But certainly not all women who say their children hardly need them anymore have started working. According to the research, this is because many other factors play a role in this choice.

No expectations

For example, according to the research, mothers are often called upon to provide informal care. “Employers can also play a big role,” continues Portegijs. “Women are rarely asked explicitly if they want to work more again, employers often see it as a given. There is a lot to gain.” Especially because part-time work “wears out”, according to Portegijs. “That’s why the report is called ‘Once part-time, always part-time’.”

The women in the study who returned to work did so, for example, because they like their jobs and would like to have a better chance of a higher position. In addition, the need for more and their own income increases the chance that women will work more. But there are so many other considerations that ultimately lead to women not coming to work or only a little more.

‘Full-time bonus not very effective’

The government is working on a ‘full-time bonus’ to do something about it. Under this plan, employees receive a financial reward if they choose to work full-time. In the budget debate last week, a proposal from D66 and VVD won a large majority. Details of the size of the bonus, its financing and in which sectors it will apply are still unknown.

Portegijs doubts whether this plan will work for older mothers. “My research and research from CPB shows that older women are not particularly sensitive to financial incentives.” She also finds it unwise to only give bonuses for full-time work. “It’s quite a step, working one more day would also help tremendously. If you set the bar that high, maybe less people will try to jump over it.”

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