A competitive hospital environment can effectively demote leave-taking medical employees in their jobs. Despite sufficient financial arrangements high-commitment staff will only take parental leave of adequate length when an institutional framework protects their status. Data support four requirements: 1. Formal recognition of the leave taker's status pre-leave. 2. Establishment of a written ("claimable") return policy. 3. Substitution scheme for each individual, preferably by a locum. 4. Redirection of funds to facilitate part-time work schemes temporarily after return.