Paternity leave is when a father-to-be takes a break from work upon the birth of the child. Although, it is allowed for fathers to take advantage of this, the said leave is rarely paid. The state of California was the first state to offer a paid paternity leave in 2004.
The British government has approved a paid leave, giving fathers about $200 a week while on a paternity leave. Other countries like Sweden, Japan, Finland, Greece, Australia, France Spain, Blegium, Germany, Ireland and Norway are offering parental leave benefits. Although, in the United States, paternity leave is not paid, a lot of fathers are still taking day off and vacation when their baby is born.
Actually, not all fathers are aware that their organization or company is offering paternity leave. According to Monster Intelligence Father’s Day Survey, about 31% of fathers know about such work benefit. From that small percentage, only more than half of them or 58% actually used it.
In a survey by the Families and Work Institute in 2005, only 13% of employers provide paid paternity leave in the United States. This could be considered backward compared to other developed countries who are offering paid paternity leave. Take Italy as an example, fathers could have a leave for three months which still allows them to take about 80% of their salary.
Paternity leave is actually mandated by the law. According to the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), a father of a new child, whether adopted or foster, could take an unpaid leave of not more than twelve weeks. After the twelve weeks, there should be no problems returning with your job. The employer must allow you to retain your position, salary, benefits, and work seniority.
However, not everybody could take advantage of this job-protected paternity leave. You could only take advantage of this is you have worked with your employer for at least 12 months or 1,250 hours. The paternity leave also applies if you work for a local or state federal government or any company that has more than 50 employees.
Companies can also have their own regulations about paternity leave. For example, there are some companies that refuse such benefit for employees who have crucial role in the company and those who are part of the 10% highest earning employees in the company. Aside from that, having your partner or wife working in the same company may also affect your parental privileges. The best thing to do is to coordinate with the human resources department about the benefit.
What do you get with spending time with your new baby?
Fathers who have taken advantaged of the paternity leave would say that the experience was wonderful. Taking time off to bond with the baby and the family, helps a father reconnect with a man’s commitment to his family.
A lot of factors contribute to a father’s refusal or inability to be with the child early in their lives, like sacrificing their income. There are parents who cannot extend their leaves due to the family’s economic situation. That is aside from that fact that some fathers on a paternity leave would often find themselves scrutinized by some of their co-workers.
But it is beyond that, paternity leaves will both benefit the father and the child. It is just a matter of making the government and also the public to understand that.