A fat paycheck and generous vacation time are undeniably important to countless male (and female) workers. But there’s another employee benefit that is just as important to many men: paternity leave.
According to a 2014 Boston College study, 89 percent of men report that paternity leave is hugely important to them. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t yet catering to that worker desire, even as dads and moms are increasingly sharing parental responsibilities at home.
Jennifer Fraone, with Boston College’s Center for Work and Family, said just 20 percent of companies offer new dads paid leave, Ozy reports.
But that could be changing. Some companies, like Netflix and Microsoft, are bolstering their parental leave policies.
Netflix recently announced it’s offering unlimited maternity and paternity leave to its employees for up to a year. Tawni Cranz, chief talent officer at Netflix, said in a release:
We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay. Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.
Microsoft also announced it’s enhancing its parental leave policies to include 12 weeks of paid paternity leave for men and 20 weeks of paid maternity time for women, effective Nov. 1. Until now, the tech giant offered eight weeks of paid maternity leave, as well as 12 weeks of parental leave (eight weeks paid, four weeks unpaid).
In an effort to “manage the physical impact that often comes with late pregnancy and to prepare for the upcoming birth,” Microsoft is also offering an additional two weeks of leave to expectant mothers who are close to their due date.
I applaud any business that improves its parental leave policy. I believe paid maternity and paternity leave is good for both parents and children.
The Family Medical Leave Act, which allows 12 weeks of time off in the first year of a child’s life, is weak at best. It only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. And although the leave is permitted, it doesn’t have to be paid. For many Americans, taking 12 weeks of unpaid time off is not possible.
Even though I worked for a small business (only nine employees) when I had my two children, I was fortunate to be able to take 12 weeks of maternity leave after each birth. However, it was unpaid time off. I saved all my vacation and sick hours and used those during my leave so I could at least collect a partial paycheck.
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