Entitlements to job-protected leave for parents are an important part of social policy in most countries. It is a necessary part of the tool-kit for running a modern state. With few exceptions, parents today can expect the right to take leave at and around the time of childbirth and during the child's early years, wherein the parents are paid by the state while taking that leave. In some cases, the parent can also expect to have the option to work reduced hours or to take time off work, with pay, if the child is ill. This social policy, which acknowledges the care responsibilities of the members of the labour force, began in the late nineteenth century as a health issue for employed women, with the aim of protecting their health and that of their newborn infants. This book examines the convergence and divergence between national social policies, in particular the leave entitlements for parents. It aims to give a better understanding of how and why leave policies are shaped by political processes. The book does this through a series of national case studies, most focused on individual countries, with two chapters that each compare two countries. It is hoped that the cases presented in this book will shed light on the politics of leave policy and enable a better understanding of how and why countries create the distinctive national profiles for leave policy.
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