The link between employment and fertility is often only examined by focussing on women's labour market status or the impact of part- versus full-time employment. This study introduces a new explanation by extending research to examine how women's subjective perceptions of control or autonomy over work, job strain and work-family conflict influence fertility intentions. National-level measures of childcare enrolment under the age of three and the occurrence of part-time work are also included to examine their relation to fertility intentions and their interplay with perceptions of work. Using data from 23 countries from the 2004/5 European Social Survey (ESS), multilevel logistic regression models of fertility intentions are estimated separately for women without children and women with one child. Women with higher levels of work control are significantly more likely to intend to have a second child. Higher levels of job strain (time pressure) significantly lower fertility intentions for mothers in contexts where childcare availability is low. The prevalence of part-time work amongst the female work force significantly predicts the intention to become a mother but has different effects for women who work part-time themselves compared with full-time employees. © 2011 The Author(s).