Celebrating Dads – A Spotlight on Great Parental Leave Policies

Time off after a new baby isn’t just for moms. Check out these companies recognizing dads too

When I started my first job after school, I was always surprised that in casual chats, my male co-workers were generally more enthusiastic about having children than my female ones. From the women, it was common to hear things like “I’d like to have a family, but I’m worried about how it will affect my career,” or “I’ve always planned to have children, but I’d like to be an executive, too.” As ladies, it seemed we had grown up internalizing a trade off between our professional dreams and our family ones, a tradeoff that wasn’t top-of-mind for the men. Is it any wonder? Close to a third of new moms don’t return to work after their babies, and up until recently, dads were left out of the conversation about family leave. Paid paternity leave is still rare to find, and even more rarely used. But the arrival of a new baby is incredibly demanding for both moms and dads, and bonding is just as important for both parents. Today, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on companies that are leading the way with inclusive, generous family leave policies.

Netflix

Netflix has one of the most generous parental leave policies, offering unlimited paid leave for both new moms and dads in the first year after having a child. While the company initially took heat because it did not make the benefit available to all its workers, they have expanded it to hourly workers as well (the amount of time given varies by role).

Etsy

Employees of Etsy are granted 26 weeks of paid leave, regardless of their gender. And initial data about usage has us optimistic – about a year after implementing the policy, the same number of men used the policy as women, and 35% of the people who took leave were promoted.

Patagonia

Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia offers new birth mothers 16 weeks of fully paid leave, and dads and adoptive mothers get 12 weeks, fully paid. In addition to their generous leave, Patagonia also offers on-site, affordable child care for its employees, new mother’s rooms for nursing, and designated parking for pregnant moms. These benefits are clearly working – the company boasts that 100% of new moms have returned after having their babies.

IKEA

It’s not uncommon to see two classes of family leave policies in companies that have salaried workers as well as hourly. IKEA’s policy for paid leave includes both full-time and part-time workers. The policy varies slightly by tenure with the company, but includes provisions for somewhere between 12-18 weeks of paid leave for both moms and dads.

Why it Matters

As you know, here at Panty Drop, we’re big believers in gender equality and encouraging women in leadership. Gender-neutral, paid family leave helps both parents learn to care for their new child, and eliminates a barrier to a more equal distribution of family chores. In Europe, where these policies are more common, studies show that new mothers are less likely to experience depression, women are absent from work less when their husbands take longer leaves, and leave can actually help increase women’s wages. Not to mention that encouraging men to take equal amounts of leave can eliminate a possible source of bias when hiring and promoting female employees.

What You Can Do

The United States is the only member of the OECD (a group of countries with high-performing economies) that does not mandate paid parental leave. A few states have implemented their own laws requiring employers to provide it – namely California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. While a number of employers like those mentioned above are going above and beyond what’s legally required, only 14% of US workers have access to paid family leave. Here are a few things you can do to change that:

  • Support the FAMILY Act which would provide paid family leave for employees to care for a sick loved one or a new child
  • If you manage employees, demonstrate your commitment by taking your leave and encouraging your team to take theirs
  • Talk about family leave with your co-workers, partners, and friends. Raising awareness and opening up the conversation will help reduce the stigma around taking leave

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