Women’s employment patterns after childbirth and the perceived access to and use of flexitime and teleworking

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Human Relations


Heejung Chung and Mariska van der Horst

Publication date


This article sets out to investigate how flexitime and teleworking can help women maintain their careers after childbirth. Despite the increased number of women in the labour market in the UK, many significantly reduce their working hours or leave the labour market altogether after childbirth. Based on border and boundary management theories, we expect flexitime and teleworking can help mothers stay employed and maintain their working hours. We explore the UK case, where the right to request flexible working has been expanded quickly as a way to address work–life balance issues. The dataset used is Understanding Society (2009–2014), a large household panel survey with data on flexible work. We find some suggestive evidence that flexible working can help women stay in employment after the birth of their first child. More evidence is found that mothers using flexitime and with access to teleworking are less likely to reduce their working hours after childbirth. This contributes to our understanding of flexible working not only as a tool for work–life balance, but also as a tool to enhance and maintain individuals’ work capacities in periods of increased family demands. This has major implications for supporting mothers’ careers and enhancing gender equality in the labour market.

Volume and page numbers

71, 47-72






Information And Communication Technologies, Labour Market, Households and Childbearing: Fertility


Open Access; This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).

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