James Poniewozik stresses the need for paid paternity leave:
A new study from the Boston College Center for Work and Family has found that new dads take paternity leave only to the extent that they’re paid to – i.e., not a lot. As the Washington Post reports, the majority of men who get two weeks’ paid leave take two weeks, those with three weeks take three, and so on. And per the Families and Work Institute, those lucky guys are few; only 14 percent of employers offer any pay for “spouse or partner” leave, compared with 58 percent for maternity leave (mostly through temporary disability insurance and very rarely at full salary).
Bryce Covert digs into the new research:
The report notes that in a study of 34 developed countries, the United States is one of just two that doesn’t ensure all fathers can access paid family leave. Here, both parents are only guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the arrival of a new child, but even that only covers about half of all workers thanks to restrictions. Only 12 percent of workers get paid leave through their employers, although three states — California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – have instituted paid family leave programs for everyone. This past December, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a bill that would give all workers access to paid family leave.
A past study from the Center for Work & Family found that 85 percent of fathers still take time off when their child arrives, but three-quarters take a week or less. California’s experience, meanwhile, backs up the most recent survey’s finding that paid leave increases leave taking. Just 35 percent of fathers took leave before the program began, but now three-quarters do, taking an average of three weeks.
Jena McGregor adds:
The vast majority of respondents – 86 percent – said they wouldn’t use paternity leave or parental leave unless they were paid at least 70 percent of their normal salaries. Roughly 45 percent said they wouldn’t use it unless they received all of their regular pay. Much of the explanation for those numbers is likely an economic one, as many of these fathers may be the primary breadwinner in their families.
Meanwhile, Aaron Gouveia praises his employers for letting him take paid leave as a new father:
By the time my second child was born last year, I had switched companies and had access to two weeks of fully paid paternity leave in addition to vacation time — all of which I was encouraged to take if I needed it. That extra time (and positive company attitude) was invaluable to me; it gave me peace of mind.
I was able to take care of my wife. I was able to supervise my oldest’s transition from only child to big brother. But most importantly, I was free to bond with my baby. I held him, changed him, got up at night to support my wife during feedings, learned his sounds, and developed a routine. Whether it’s moms striving for perfection or dads being hesitant (or already back at work) during those first few weeks, uninvolved dads lose out on so much of that initial experience that serves as a foundation for fatherhood. But paternity leave allowed me to be an active participant in parenting, as opposed to a bystander.