Comparative Study of Family Care Leave Policies and Legislation

Contact: Michael Fuchs


Combining paid work and caring duties for older family members, sick children, or disabled relatives is becoming a challenge for many people of working age, especially women, with the share of employees with caring commitments likely to continue to rise in the future.
Supporting endeavours for an improvement of the framework conditions for employed relatives providing care in Switzerland, the European Centre is carrying out a study for the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health with the aim of providing in-depth analysis of good practices related to care leave policies and legislation from other countries (Austria, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands) , and developing a conceptual framework for the analysis of (typical) care leave models in European countries and beyond.

Identifying trade-offs of different care leave models for public policy-makers

The study takes into account the importance of contextual factors related to a country's welfare states tradition ("care regime"), including public health and social care services, as well as the country's labour market situation, particularly of women. In the study seven key objectives for policymakers are defined, which need to be considered when designing care leaves (e.g. labour market attachment of caregivers, financial and social security). In the first part of the study, the in-depth analysis of the selected countries highlights the trade-offs for public policy-makers involved in different kinds of care leave legislations and regulations, based on the key objectives. This part is mainly carried out via desk research, and involves a thorough review of administrative documents, grey and academic literature.

Evaluating successes and challenges during implementation of care leaves

Secondly, the project also aimed to shed light on the actual implementation of care leave models, with a focus on a set of output indicators (e.g. take-up rates, average costs, and average duration of leaves) and outcomes (e.g. employment situation of caregivers). For this purpose, a number of expert interviews were held in the selected countries to validate the information collected during desk research, fill any gaps in knowledge, and gain additional insights into the successes and challenges associated with the implementation of specific policies.

Finally, the results were synthesized in a cross-country analysis, identifying commonalities and differences across countries, and comparing pros and cons of different types of regulations on care leaves. A conceptual framework of (typical) care leave models was finalised at this stage, and specific recommendations for the Swiss policy context were provided.
The Executive Summary (in German, English and French) can be downloade here.

Head of Project: Andrea Schmidt
Project team: Michael Fuchs, Ricardo Rodrigues, Andrea E. Schmidt