Under Canada's Employment Insurance (EI) system, parents are entitled to receive up to 50 weeks of parental leave at 55% of salary to a maximum of $413/week. In addition, many companies “top-up” these EI benefits so parents receive their full salary during parental leave. Despite this national policy, women with higher education are more likely to delay childbearing. Women who delay childbearing, particularly past age 35, are at increased risk of infertility, pregnancy and birth complications. This analysis aimed to assess whether workplace support impacted women's decisions regarding when to have their first baby and how educational attainment affected this relationship. Within 3 months of delivery, women who had given birth to their first live-born infant in 2002/2003 within two large urban regions in Alberta, Canada, were randomly selected to participate in a telephone survey. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between workplace support, educational attainment and timing of first pregnancy. Among 836 women with a planned pregnancy, 26% agreed that the support or lack of support for pregnant women at their workplace affected their decision about when to begin their family. After controlling for age and income, women who had completed a post-graduate degree were three times (OR=3.39, 95% CI 1.69 to 6.81) more likely to indicate that the support or lack of support for pregnant women in the workplace affected their childbearing decisions. In spite of national policies, and the potential risks associated with delayed childbearing, workplace support impacts timing of pregnancy, particularly for highly educated women.
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