Parental Leave Is for Dads, Too

Really good parental leave policies encourage fathers to take time off without worrying about their careers.

Written by Annie Rosencrans
Published on Jun. 14, 2023
Parental Leave Is for Dads, Too
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The third Sunday of June is Father’s Day, a time to remember that dads are parents, too.  Yet paternity leave policies and perceptions in the United States lag that of other countries.  

4 Facts About Paternity Leave

  1. There is no federal mandate for companies to provide paid paternity (or maternity) leave.
  2. But: Employees of the federal government get 12 weeks paid parental leave upon the birth or adoption of a child.
  3. Only a handful of states guarantee paid paternity leave. Dads in other states must rely on unpaid leave via the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.
  4. The four biggest tech companies all offer paid paternity leave, ranging from six to 24 weeks.

Source: Vacationtracker.io

According to research compiled by online career consultancy Zippia, the average paternity leave lasts one week, compared with an average of 6.3 weeks paid leave in European Union countries. One-fifth of dads think that taking parental leave will hinder their careers, and 13 percent said it actually did harm their careers. Three-quarters (76 percent) of dads return to work less than a week after their new child arrives.

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Parental Leave: Differing Opinions

When it comes to parental leave, women and men have different perceptions, according to the findings of HiBob’s 2023 study on American women professionals in the workplace.

For example, 50 percent of men perceive that their companies offered extended paid maternity leave, compared with only 30 percent of women. While 41 percent of male respondents said their company offered shared or paternity leave, only 32 percent of women said the same thing. In fact, 84 percent of men believe that their company offers some type of women-specific benefits, while only 56 percent of women believe the same. 

Paternity leave offers a range of benefits, including creating more equality within households and even helping close the wage gap. 

All this said, family-friendly policies for all parents can yield significant long-term benefits for children and families, such as promoting bonding and attachment between parents and children and enhancing overall family health and well-being. Paternity leave, in particular, offers a range of benefits, including creating more equality within households and even helping close the wage gap, according to research from the National Partnership for Women & Families

All employees can benefit from parental leave and other flexible work arrangements, allowing them to balance their professional and personal responsibilities more effectively. Moreover, companies that offer these benefits tend to enjoy a more engaged workforce, as employees are more likely to feel enabled and valued.

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5 Ways to Improve Parental Leave Policies

When an employee takes parental leave, it is important for companies to have a plan in place to ensure that new parents make the most of their time with their families and that, back at the office, the work gets done.

 

make it long enough to matter

First and foremost, it is essential to offer an adequate amount of leave so that parents have ample time to adjust to their new family dynamics. It is also key to communicate this benefit with employees so that new moms and new dads take advantage of it. Fully communicate what the benefit entails: The Zippia research indicates that 45 percent of men will not take paternity leave unless it covers 100 percent of their salary, and 86 percent will not take it unless it covers 70 percent of their salary. 

Companies should also provide clear guidance on the steps employees should take before and during their leave, including how to handle, hand over or complete any work-related tasks or responsibilities before they take leave. 

 

Consider temporary help

One approach is to assign a temporary replacement or distribute the employee’s responsibilities among other team members. This allows the work to continue without interruption, while also ensuring that the employee can take the time they need to care for their family. 

It is also important for companies to provide the necessary training and support to the employee’s temporary replacement or team members to ensure that they are equipped to handle the added responsibilities.

 

Keep communication open

Organizations need to communicate clearly with both the employee taking leave and their team members to ensure that everyone understands their role and responsibilities. 

Managers should establish clear lines and forms of communication to keep the employee on leave informed of any major developments or changes in their absence. Planning ahead and providing clear communication and support might quell new fathers’ fears that being away from work will set back their careers. It also ensures a smooth transition during an employee’s parental leave and demonstrates a business’s commitment to supporting all their employees’ well-being.

 

Be Flexible

Employers should ensure a smooth transition for dads to return to work by offering flexible work arrangements, such as part-time schedules or remote work options.

 

Be Supportive

It is also important for companies to foster a supportive culture that encourages open communication and acknowledges the challenges of balancing work and parenthood. Companies should provide resources and support for returning employees, such as mentorship programs or professional development opportunities, to help ease their re-entry into the workforce. 

Parental leave is a key benefit for all new parents, moms and dads alike; certainly, the arrival of a new family member requires more than a week away from the office. Shape this important benefit so both parents can take part, with peace of mind. 

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