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Maternity leave means work for unemployed women


Woman at job interview
© Copyright: iStockphoto

An ESF-backed operation in the Azores is offering unemployed women a taste of working life by providing them with temporary positions to cover for people who are taking maternity leave.

The project finds the employer a suitable replacement while their member of staff is away having a baby – and provides the necessary funding.

Cradle of Employment is open to all women who are registered with the Public Employment Service and receiving unemployment benefits. Postings are limited to the duration of the maternity leave, plus two months. The scheme has been embraced by all types of employers – including private companies, non-profit cooperatives and central, regional and local government.

The operation is generating solid results for the employers and the individuals who are taking part.

Firstly, it has encouraged employers to hire young women – if they go on maternity leave they can quickly be replaced by someone enrolled in the project. The Public Employment Service continues to pay the participant’s unemployment benefit, plus the difference to make up the full wage.

Secondly, around half of the project participants have gone on to find regular work. Since its start in 2008, and until end-2012, the initiative involved over 554 women.

The operation's versatility and adaptability is well suited to the Azores which is made up of nine islands, each with its own ‘micro-economy’.


Project name: Berço de Emprego - Cradle of Employment
Area of activity: Opening pathways to work
Project duration: 2008 – 2012
ESF contribution: € 1 226 589 (2008-2012)
Total budget: -
Participants: 554 women
Country: Portugal
Organisation: Azores Government
Contact details: Ms. Ilda Baptista – Manager of the ESF Operational Programme Pro-Emprego
+351 296 30 80 00