4. Large share of mothers at home caring for children without employment contract

However, the employment rate alone does not describe the proportion of the parents of young children who actually work. Persons on maternity or paternity leave from work, as well as persons whose absence from work has lasted under three months are classified as employed in the Labour Force Survey. Thus, especially in the case of mothers of very small children the employed contain plenty of mothers who are actually at home looking after a child. Respectively, mothers on child care leave are mostly classified as persons outside the labour force because the care leave is often taken after the maternity leave and parental leave, which means the total duration of the leave is over three months.

Figure 4 shows as a separate group those mothers of under three-year-old children who actually go to work. It also describes separately the mothers on family leave (maternity, parental or child care leave) from employment and those without employment contract who are looking after their children at home. The fourth group consists of those who have said that their principal activity is something else than child care. This group includes such as students and unemployed persons.

When the youngest child of a family is under three years old, a majority of mothers are either on family leave from employment or otherwise caring for their children without employment contract. Good one-third of mothers with children of this age are working. From 2012 to 2013, the share of mothers that are working has decreased and the share of mothers on family leave from employment has remained almost unchanged. By contrast, the share of those staying at home without an employment contract has increased slightly. This group includes both mothers that primarily care for children at home and those whose main activity is something else besides caring for a child. (Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Working and family leaves of 20 to 59-year-old mothers with children aged under three in 2009 to 2013

Figure 4. Working and family leaves of 20 to 59-year-old mothers with children aged under three in 2009 to 2013

Only a few mothers with children under the age of one are working but more than one-half of mothers with children aged between one and two are at work (Figure 5). When the youngest child is aged three to six, a majority of mothers have returned to work. Among all mothers of school-age children already nearly 90 per cent are working.

Mothers' education has an impact on employment. Mothers with tertiary level education more often have an employment contract throughout their family leave and they return to work faster than other mothers.

More than one-half of mothers with tertiary and upper secondary level education are at work when their youngest child turns three. When the youngest child is aged three to six, as many as 86 per cent of mothers with tertiary level education are working, while this is so for 69 per cent among mothers with upper secondary level education. Among mothers with less than upper secondary level education around one half are at work at this stage and as many are totally outside the working life. The working of fathers remains relatively stable regardless of the age of their children because fathers often take shorter child care leaves than mothers.

Figure 5. Working and family leaves among mothers aged 20 to 59-year-old by age of their youngest child in 2013

Figure 5. Working and family leaves among mothers aged 20 to 59-year-old by age of their youngest child in 2013

Source: Labour Force Survey 2013. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Tarja Nieminen 029 551 3561, Anna Pärnänen 029 551 3795, tyovoimatutkimus@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 7.10.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Labour force survey [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-7857. Families and work 2013, 4. Large share of mothers at home caring for children without employment contract . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 24.4.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/tyti/2013/14/tyti_2013_14_2014-10-07_kat_004_en.html