Acta Sociologica;Vol 62, Issue 1, 2019
An examination of managers’ perspectives on employees’ parental leave rights is presented, drawing on qualitative interviews with 34 managers in the Norwegian police and in the legal profession. The aim of the article is to explore how managers approach employees’ parental leave within different institutional logics and how their approach relates to gendered norms of good parenthood. According to these norms, parental leave is used fully, but mothers take the main share of the leave. The findings show that the managers do not necessarily perceive parental leave as a problem. However, the practical solutions the managers propose to possible challenges give important clues about what parental leave entails within the frame of different institutional logics. The managers’ concerns reveal that parental leave rights may clash with central values, goals and strategies in an organisation. Within the logics of the police and private law firms, work is more individualised and thus perceived as more challenging than in the public sector law offices. When the solution suggested by the managers is for individual employees to adapt their leave, gendered norms come forward. However, the analysis also shows that gendered parenthood norms play out differently with the different institutional logics. With these insights, the analysis shows how policy regulations and local workplace contexts interact in shaping the consequences of family policies for gender equality in wages and career progression.
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