Employment of mothers

Zsuzsanna Veroszta, the research coordinator of Cohort ‘18 interviewed HDRI researcher Zsuzsanna Makay about her recent publication on the topic of attitude changes about the employment of mothers with young children. This interview adds a new flavor to the interesting results published in the study.

Is there a change in the attitude of mothers with young children to employment? Is there a change in how society looks at it, too?

In Hungary, the population has traditional views on the employment of mothers with young children, especially the ones raising children under the age of three. Most people believe it is best if the mother is at home with the young child and does not go to work. Most people can afford to do that, but there are some that go back to work earlier, when the child is two, or even around one and a half years old, due to financial reasons, or simply because they miss their work.

This is even more widespread in other European countries. There, mothers usually go back to work when the child is one year, or even only six months old, and in many cases work full time.

What do fathers with small children think about the mothers being employed? Has anything changed in their attitude?

In Hungary, the fathers also like it better if the mothers are at home, there is no significant difference between the attitudes of men and women. In other words, most people support a traditional division of labor in the family: the father works, while the mother is at home with the child or children.

Does one have to give up state support in case of an employment?

Since 2014, one does not have to give it up. When the child has reached the age of 6 months, one can be employed without a time limitation and receive either GYED (childcare fee) or GYES (child benefit) in full. This can be a substantial extra income for the family, especially if they are receiving GYED, which is 70% of the former income, with a top limit. The father can also apply for it on his own salary, which might be more beneficial for the family.

Is it realistic to find work that can be done while having a young child?

The employer is obligated to provide part-time work for parents raising children under 3 years of age, if they request it. Many people are not aware of this, but all parents raising small children are entitled to it. Part-time can be half-time, or anything else agreed upon by the employee and the employer. Unfortunately, part-time employment is still very rare in Hungary, mainly for financial reasons (for less work, there is less pay), and the employers are not always open to it. Hence, it is important to know that they are obliged by law.

And how can one arrange childcare then? Grandparents – fathers – nursery?

There are many possibilities, but individual preferences, and the availability of nurseries and grandparents also influence the decision. Many grandparents are happy to watch their grandchild even for several days a week, and this kind of a relationship can be good for the child as well. In addition, there are nurseries maintained by the state or the local government, operating along strict guidelines, which generally provide very good services for young children, mostly for the age group of 1-3. The former family daycares are now called “family nurseries”. They operate with smaller groups, and usually provide services through a foundation for young children.