Go back

International Women’s Day: more women on the labour market

08 March 2023 Annelies Bries Employers

Women are performing more working hours and are less and less opting to take any kind of career break. Nevertheless, part-time parental leave continues to be a popular formula. Not only among mothers: fathers are also taking parental leave more often.

Reading time: Read later?

Women’s labour market participation on the rise

Figures from Statbel show that women’s labour market participation has increased in recent decades: from around 50% in the 1990s, to 67% in 2021. As for men, their labour market participation remained stable at around 75%.

The fact that slightly more men are still in work is mostly due to the traditional division of roles within couples: women perform less paid work because they spend more time on housework and raising children than men do. But that ‘gender gap’ is starting to shrink: women are standing their ground in the workplace more.

Better work-life balance

So women these days need to take on fewer caring responsibilities? Certainly not: while family care continues, rising longevity and costs of living are forcing both men and women to work full-time.

In addition, structural homeworking is by now well established, making the work-life puzzle easier to put together. Before the pandemic, it was almost impossible for parents to be at the school gate before dark. And they were unable to attend the office on Wednesday afternoons because they had to stay home for the children.


Thanks to hybrid working, care tasks can be more smoothly interspersed with to-dos from work. Meaning we’re work more, as well as longer. This is good for employers: they can aim to maximise their workforce’s usability, rather than immediately having to look for additional workers.

Less need for a career break

These developments also partly explain the declining trend in the proportion of workers taking career breaks. At present, just over 6% of employees take some form of career break. This is 5% less compared to 2021, and the lowest level in four years.

The proportion of men taking career breaks remains stable, at 5.1%. Among women, the share was down 7% in 2022 compared to 2021: from 8.1% to 7.5%.

Fathers more likely to take part-time parental leave

Although part-time time credit reaches the most employees with a share of 3.4%, here too we observe a 10% decrease. One form of career break gained in popularity: part-time parental leave (+3.4%).

Those who work and have children can choose between parental leave full-time, half-time, 1/5th (1 day a week), or 1/10th (half a day a week or 1 day every 2 weeks). Most frequently, employees choose to work 4/5th. In 2022, nearly 70% of parents taking parental leave opted for the 1/5th formula.

Interestingly, 1/10th parental leave – only existing since 2019 – is gaining popularity. Also among fathers: three in ten opted for this variant in 2022. Overall, 1.6% of male employees took parental leave, accounting for a 21% increase from 2020.

Vaders nemen vaker deeltijds ouderschapsverlof

All about parental leave and time credit

What about career breaks, time credit and parental leave? Contact the experts at Acerta.

Contact us

Share this post

Written by Annelies Bries

Legal advisor at Acerta

Related articles


Is the right to disconnect effectively being implemented or does it exist only on paper?

03 October 2023 Miet Vanhegen

Disconnecting is about being able to switch off from work, something we can all do with. How do you go about implementing this in such a way that it works?

Read more

Mental well-being: how are your employees really doing?

05 June 2023 Miet Vanhegen

Employers see employees' mental well-being through rose-tinted glasses: 8 out of 10 think their staff are doing well to very well. The latter group certainly doesn't always experience it that way, according to a survey of more than 2,500 Belgian employees by Acerta and Stepstone.

Read more

What if your employee has financial problems?

30 November 2022 Ellen Van Grunderbeek

These are challenging times for you as an employer, but your employees also have financial challenges today. How do you recognise employees with financial problems? And how can you deal with that in your organisation?

Read more