Economic doldrums make working moms shun maternity leave


Credit: This ParticularGreg on Flickr, under Creative Commons 2.0

TOKYO (majirox news) — The number of women taking maternity leave fell for the second consecutive year in fiscal 2010, probably because of the poor state of the economy, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Of women eligible to take maternity leave during the year from April 1 2009 until March 31, 2010, only 83.7% elected to do so, down 1.9 percentage points from the previous year.

Men taking paternity leave also declined by 0.34 percentage points to 1.38%, according to the ministry’s basic investigation on equal employment opportunity results released July 15.

“The effects of the economic slump mean people are not taking time off after childbirth and many are probably returning to the workplace soon after having a baby,” a ministry spokesman said.

The ministry survey also showed that women working on limited contracts, such as those in part-time employment or others being dispatched as temporary employees, were even less inclined to take maternity leave, with only 71.7% of those eligible to do so taking up the opportunity. This was a 14.9 percentage point fall from the previous survey conducted in fiscal 2008.

The ministry’s investigation involved contacting 5,794 businesses nationwide, of which 68.2% replied, and asking them about employees’ maternity and paternity leave.

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