Parental leave within the broader employment trajectory

Nevena Zhelyazkova (Department of Governance and Regulation, Universite Paris Dauphine, Paris, France)
Gilbert Ritschard (NCCR LIVES, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 18 September 2017



The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of parental leave use and long-term employment trajectories of parents in Luxembourg based on anonymous administrative records. This is the first systematic analysis of parental leave take-up rates and return rates for Luxembourg using a large and reliable data set.


The authors use highly detailed administrative data to calculate take-up and return rates for parental leave for both men and women working in Luxembourg. To gain deeper insights into the employment trajectories of parents, the authors deploy the visualisation tools of the TraMineR package, which allow the authors to trace developments over time.


The authors estimate take-up rates for parental leave at 72 per cent for mothers and 13 per cent for fathers. The return rates for mothers are 88.4, 99.4 and 70.8 per cent depending on whether they took full-time, part-time or no parental leave. In contrast, over 95 per cent of fathers remain employed following parental leave. The trajectory analysis reveals that the event of birth is a clear turning point for the majority of the female trajectories, but not for the male ones.


The paper contributes to the literature in at least several ways. First, this is the first available paper presenting the situation in Luxembourg using a large and reliable data set. Second, by including fathers in the analysis, the authors contribute to the available knowledge of male use of parental leave, which has been the subject of continued policy efforts in the past decades. Finally, the authors show how parental leave can be analysed using sequence analysis tools and how this method offers additional, holistic insights into work-family patterns over time.



This research project has been funded by the National Research Fund, Luxembourg. This paper is based on a PhD dissertation completed at Maastricht University/UNU-MERIT. The authors thank researchers from the TraMineR Team at the University of Geneva, Alexis Gabadinho, Nicolas S. Müller, Matthias Studer, Reto Bürgin and Emmanuel Rousseaux, for their comments on writing this paper. Joan Muysken from Maastricht University and Cees Elzinga from the Free University of Amsterdam have provided valuable feedback for improving the paper. Isabelle Debourges from IGSS Luxembourg has provided important advice on the data analysis.


Zhelyazkova, N. and Ritschard, G. (2017), "Parental leave within the broader employment trajectory", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 7, pp. 607-627.

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