We Still Have a Lot of Progress to Make When It Comes to Paternity Leave
Corporate America needs to catch up on recognizing the importance of fathers after a child is born
A study done by Ball State University in 2020 found a stunning gender gap when it comes to parental leave after childbirth. It found that 28% of companies don’t offer any paternity leave. This is a terrible statistic and shows corporations don’t value important contributions dad makes after mom gives birth. Lots of situations can hurt new moms if their partner must return to work immediately.
Childbirth is taxing for women, especially C-sections. Moms are the primary caregivers after birth, but what if they need care? It could be six weeks until mom can lift something heavier than her baby, two weeks to drive, and three weeks to take a bath. Partners need to be around and able to take time off to help in these situations. A new mom may not be able to do basic household tasks during that time.
Both the new father and baby benefit from the opportunity of bonding time from the start. When a father is around a child’s mental development is boosted, fathers experience less stress and more confidence when they have their own time with their baby, helps to prevent issues like depression and alcoholism later in life, and children get exposed to different experiences with their father.
Employers can benefit by offering good paternity leave because that will help attract and retain top talent in one of the most difficult job markets ever. It shows that businesses care about your life outside of work and more involved fathers make for a better world. It’s a non-political way to demonstrate you care about society and to provide a more equitable workplace.
I’m fortunate to work where I get 8 weeks of paid paternity leave at my full salary. That created an incentive for me to not look for another job during my wife’s pregnancy when I could have gotten a significant pay increase elsewhere. I know most companies don’t offer that much time and I value every priceless moment I can with my daughter when she’s first coming into our world over an immediate pay increase.
Not every company can afford to give employees that much paid time off for paternity leave. It’s impossible for your mom-and-pop coffee shop in rural America to do that, but large employers should make that investment. Fathers play an important role to support mom after their baby is born and they need bonding time too so they can be successful in the most important job they will ever have.