Brough, P., O’Driscoll, M. & Biggs, A. (2009). Parental leave and work-family balance among employed parents following childbirth: an exploratory investigation in Australia and New Zealand. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences, 4, 71- 87.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2723
Although there has been considerable research internationally on the topic of work-family balance, one area largely overlooked concerns the acute demands experienced by employed parents in the period of time following the birth of a child. Using an exploratory (qualitative) design, we investigated the perceived effects of parental leave provisions, organisational and family support, and job changes on work-family balance among 81 Australian and New Zealand parents who had returned to paid employment after the birth of a child. Respondents with no or limited access to paid parental leave perceived an imperative to return quickly to full-time employment. This employment transition was generally perceived as premature and as having adverse personal consequences (e.g., personal health, child attachment, and breast-feeding) and organisational consequences (e.g., diminished job commitment and increased turnover intentions). Major determinants of work-family balance emerging in this research were access to paid parental leave, adequate leave duration, organisational support, and emotional reactions to returning to work while caring for an infant. Implications for the continued refinement of work-family policies and support in Australia and New Zealand are discussed.
The Royal Society of New Zealand