Childcare and family friendly policies to support women’s participation in employment
Stakeholders in both regions reported that subsidised childcare and care for the elderly is accessible for most families and generally meets demand. There are no notable differences in provision between the two study areas. Subsidised childcare is government regulated and early year’s education is compulsory. A national scheme is in place to target increased participation in early year’s education by disadvantaged groups and preparatory classes for children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are available to prepare them for primary schooling.
Subsidised care for the elderly is available usually within two to three months of applying but it depends on the type of service sought as elderly care can be provided as a personal home service or through residential institutional care. In cities such as Brno in South Moravia, there is excess demand for institutional care which may lead to long waiting lists or moving out to rural areas. When demand for elderly care is high, municipalities tend to cooperate with other actors such as charities on providing this service.
Family friendly policies such as job rotation, flexible maternity and paternity leave, creches on site, part-time work and career breaks are scarce in the Czech Republic and only some large employers have introduced such approaches. There is a lack of support measures either on the national or regional level and employers are not systematically encouraged to adopt such policies although some discussions have taken place with employers on implementing family friendly policies.
There seems to be a consensus among regional stakeholders that low female participation rates in employment (and which translates into a considerable wage gap) is caused by the lack of flexible forms of employment rather than insufficient childcare capacities. A number of projects aimed at better aligning work with care responsibilities are funded by ESF programmes. Some public sector employers have been pro-active on this - one such example is the South Moravian Regional Authority which set up a kindergarten last year for its employees. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs recently launched a pilot project to get more women into the workplace by establishing “child groups”.
Box 3.11. Piloting “child groups” by employers to promote female employment
Recently the Ministry of Labour launched a pilot project to promote female employment by subsidising so called “child groups' established by employers as an alternative to the public network of childcare facilities. In cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour submitted a bill which provides for a new child caring service for children before the start of compulsory schooling. So far, one pilot child group is operating with 38 children enrolled. It is intended that child care within the groups be provided on a non-commercial basis with a maximum public contribution to cover the investment and operational costs. The provider may be a private or public employer, a non-profit organisation or a regional body or municipality. Still in the design phase, the bill provides for specific conditions relating to the number of children per caregiver, insurance, and registration duties. There will also be tax-deductible expenses related to their operation and a tax credit for self-employed parents. A national initiative, there are few innovative examples of this being taken up at the regional level.
Source: Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (2013a), “Overcrowded kindergartens: A solution could be children's groups”, 11/04/2013, Prague.