Bringing a new baby into the family is an emotional and exciting time for any parent. Unfortunately these moments are short lived for many American fathers as they face the reality of returning to work. While employers often give women maternity leave, few offer similar benefits to men. Two dad families face an even harder struggle with few options for initial care of their bouncing baby.
Compared to other nations, a 2016 research study by Pew Research Center found that the United States ranks last among 41 countries in paid parental leave. Estonia, leading the pack, offers a whopping 87 weeks of paid parental leave. Many American fathers miss important bonding and early experiences with their infant by returning to work early. Former Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, noted the importance of paternal leave, “Fathers taking parental leave helps not just children but moms, too, by changing who changes the diapers and the while culture around work and family.”
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) assures job security for both men and women for up to 12 weeks after a birth or adoption. Unfortunately, the law does not require paid benefits and only applies to certain workplaces and jobs. Some states have increased the minimum to 16 weeks, and only a handful of states require any sort of paid paternity leave.
Thankfully, some employers have taken notice of this gender disparity and have taken measures to equalize the gap. Pioneering companies such as Coca-Cola, Facebook, Johnson and Johnson, Netflix, SAP ant others have offered paternity leave benefits to their employees. As this becomes more commonplace, men won’t have to face a tough decision between the fear job security and the desire to be with their new infant.