In Parental Leave and Beyond: Recent International Developments, Current Issues and Future Directions, editors Peter Moss, Ann-Zofie Duvander, and Alison Koslowski, draw together a broad collection of international contributions exploring the extensive, although not exclusive, range of policy designs for the provision of parental leave across the globe. This edited volume constitutes essential reading for those who wish to monitor, evaluate, and adapt leave policies over time; it is also a useful guide in the effort to align aims and design, a goal that has often been elusive. The book is relevant for academics and policymakers alike, and accessible for undergraduate students, providing a thought-provoking platform for everyone who is curious about the potential role that policies on parental leave may play in promoting a work-life balance for families and societies.
Despite increased scholarly and empirical interest in the subject, there are still considerable gaps between theory and practice. Leave policy in many countries is under-developed because not only is it complex and multi-layered, but it also straddles substantive fields such as work, welfare, care, gender equality, and family life. This edited volume argues the case for thinking more broadly and holistically about policies on parental leave that address diverse forms of care across the life-course, not merely child-rearing, applied equally to men and women, and moving towards a ‘universal caregiving’ model for living (Fraser, 1997). Such thinking is timely given the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in a societal revaluation of previously low-paid employment such as teaching, healthcare, and food retail services. The pandemic has created opportunities for the reconceptualization of the structure of social life, creating spaces for the consideration of alternative and progressive ways to improve quality of life, particularly in relation to changing family demographics, precarious employment, sustainable communities, and social cohesion.