Why We Need More Support for Paternity Leave

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Most people are familiar with maternity leave, but did you know the United States is one of the few countries where it’s not mandated to be paid? To take it a step farther, paternity leave is still being adapted by companies and varies drastically by state. With the number of women in the workplace now and the importance of a family being together after a child is born or adopted, this just does not make sense to me.

Paternity leave – and especially longer leaves of several weeks or months – can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace. Paid parental leave for fathers, as well as for mothers, provides a real advantage to working families.

Paternity leave is not completely void in the US, anyway. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act require organizations with over 50 workers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave. Just a few (about 14%) offer paternity leave in the US, by choice.

It comes down to employers focusing too much on the short-term costs and not seeing the long-term benefits. Retention is something most companies strive for and spend high dollars in training and keeping employees happy. Want to know what makes employees happy- being supported, flexibility, and respect for their personal life.

Having a child or going through adoption is a monumental stage in each member of a family’s life; that includes mom and dad. So, why does dad not have the same amount of time as mom? Who can support their family and focus on the new addition/transition when they are not being paid for several weeks?

Currently the tech industry has the right idea. The reason so many tech companies has adopted not only paid maternity leave, but also paternity leave, is because the competition to get top recruits is high and the desire to retain those employees is strong.

Here are a few countries that offer amazing paternity leave.

Sweden

New dads in Sweden get the opportunity to bond with their new babies, not just the mom gets all the attention. Dads get 90 days paternity leave with 80% pay of their normal salary, with both parents getting a total of 480 days. What?!

Norway

Similar to Sweden in terms of pay; both parents get 80% of their normal salary. But fathers have the option to take between 0 to 10 weeks of paternity leave, depending on how much their wives earn. Mothers have the option to take between 35 to 45 weeks. Together, the parents can also receive an additional 56 weeks at 80% pay or 46 weeks at full pay.

Iceland

New parents in Iceland are to decide how they want to split their nine months parental leave. Dads and moms get three months each and the couple would decide on how they want to split share the remaining three months. They both receive 80% of their salary during the leave.

Finland

Fathers in Finland are entitled to 8 weeks of fully paid paternity leave and 23 weeks that both parents could split between child-rearing and pregnancy. Until the child starts second grade, when the child is 3, the parents have the option to take partial care leave where they can split time between home and work.

Canada

Paternity leave is only available in Quebec, with options for 3 weeks of 75% salary pay (up to a maximum of $1046 per week) or 5 weeks of 70% salary pay (up to a maximum of $975 per week).

Who has the right idea in the US? Five states currently mandate paid parental leave:

  • New York State
  • California
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • Washington, D.C.

I was able to work for a company with my middle being born that offered paid maternity leave. Not only did they hire me 8 ½ months pregnant, they paid for my maternity leave and encouraged me to take all the time I needed with our newest family member. What that did was remind me how amazing of a company I worked for throughout my maternity leave, reduced financial stress for diapers, food, etc. for my family, and made me promote the company even more than I already did. I have never worked around more motivated and grateful employees and it all came back to feeling appreciated.

Paternity leave is important for the entire family and dads shouldn’t be left out of bonding time with their new additions and also be there to help bear some of the weight and support their wives. We continue to make steps in the right direction and I hope when my kids have their children we will balanced and support our employees in the US as others do around the world.

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