A new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology looked at the underlying negative effects of longer legislated maternity leaves on a woman’s career.

Defining leaves as one year and longer, the study referred to recent legislation in Canada and Scandinavian countries that encourages prolonged time off for new parents. It looked at the perceived negative effects of longer leaves to test a number of interventions that boost the perceptions of women’s job commitment and hireability, and mitigate the unintended consequences on their careers.

Read: Budget boosts parental leave to 18 months, introduces caregiving benefit

The researchers tested their theory in three stages in the context of Canadian maternity leave policies.

In the first stage, the study found that where managers received applications that showed a woman had taken a 12-month maternity leave, as opposed to other applications that showed a leave of just one month, the applicant was less desirable. In the second study, the managers received applications accompanied by a letter of recommendation. The support from a former manager mitigated any bias associated with the length of the maternity leave.

And in the third study, the researchers looked at the use of keep-in-touch programs. It showed that these programs, which enable a new mother to stay involved with the workplace while on maternity leave, enhances the perceptions of her job commitment and hireability. These workplaces were compared to scenarios where no such program was offered; where a program was offered but not used by the applicant; or where the program was offered, but there was no information about its usage by the applicant.

Since it’s been nearly a year since the federal government extended employment insurance parental benefits to 18 months, have employers experienced any issues with these lengthier maternity leaves? Have your say in this week’s online poll here.

The previous online poll asked whether commuting should count as work. The majority (54 per cent) of respondents said no, it only encourages workers to extend their working day rather than focus on work-life balance. The remaining 46 per cent said yes, it would be a good development for the modern worker who’s already on email before and after the traditional working day.