How to Fix the Paternity Leave Problem

Seventy-six percent of U.S. fathers take less than a week of paternity leave after adding a new baby to their families. That’s despite the fact that 45 percent of U.S. companies offer some form of paid paternity leave.

While this may seem like a benefit to employers — of course you want your employees to be working insted of taking extended leave — there are some downsides to men not taking paternity leave. Example? Men often don’t take paternity leave because they fear it will hurt their careers, reinforcing harmful workplace stereotypes and impacting company culture. As Thekla Morgenroth, a research fellow in social and organisational psychology at the University of Exeter, told the BBC, “Men who do take parental leave can face backlash and be seen as weak, lacking work commitment.”

Of course, when men don’t take paternity leave, it also hurts women. According to Nobel Laureate Claudia Goldman, children are one of the biggest drivers in the pay gap between men and women. Women who choose to have children earn less, primarily because they value temporal flexibility over high pay. It’s a choice, of course. We all make choices. But lots of arguments in favor of men taking paternity leave lean on the idea that it would support women and make for more balanced households.

However, having two people not working for 12 weeks is hardly a viable financial option for most households. And the solution isn’t government-provided paid leave, as is offered in Japan and Sweden. Men still take less leave than women.

You want great paternity leave available to men for the same reason you want great maternity leave available to women — because it’s a great benefit that attracts good employees. But the benefit is only valuable if it’s attractive.

Fortunately, there’s a straightforward way to make paternity leave — and maternity leave — more attractive to your employees, and less of a burden on your business: intermittent FMLA.

To keep reading, click here: How to Fix the Paternity Leave Problem

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2 thoughts on “How to Fix the Paternity Leave Problem

  1. This article addresses parental leave in terms of a 12-week ( 3 months) leave of absence from work, which is longer than the usual medical leave for recuperation from giving birth, so this is extra time off beyond that medical leave time period, which then gives the individual 18 weeks ( 4 1/2months ) time off from their job but PTO coverage time. Beyond that time off, if more time felt to be needed, then FLMA would apply. With two involved parents utilizing this PTO, the child could have an actively involved parent present for almost the entire first year of the child’s life allowing for both parents to maintain their career lives and form bonds with their child.

  2. I did intermittent paternity leave, where for the first 6 weeks I stayed home and then worked 3 days a week after that until I exhausted my leave. Fortunately my employer offers fully paid parental leave, and it’s a slightly different situation because my spouse stays home with the children. But it honestly was a lot better, since it gave us a transition period where we could find good household routines that worked for our family, while still letting me be a cushion to my spouse and family on the days I was there to assist.

    Honestly I think this is the ideal way to go! Intermittent leave is a great way to address many issues here.

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