Providing flexibility to women at their workplace may help them to maintain their careers after childbirth, says a new research paper.
The study highlights the fact that it is "the ability to take advantage of the opportunity to work flexibly that is most useful" in preventing women from dropping out of the labour market after having their first child.
The study, led by Heejung Chung of the University of Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, found that women who were able to use flexitime were only half as likely to reduce their hours after the birth of their child.
The researchers observed that more than half of women in their study sample reduced their working hours after the birth of their child, while less than a quarter of women who were able to use flexitime reduced their hours.
The study, published in the journal Human Relations, showed that it is the use of flexitime -- rather than perceived access to it -- that matters most.
The researchers also found that "for mothers with new-borns, perceived access to flexitime in itself may not be enough to tackle the work-life balance demands they are faced with. The flexibility needs to be enacted to really make a difference".