Paid paternity leave discussed as nation celebrates Father’s Day

With the nation recently celebrating Father’s Day, the role of dads in today’s society has been on the mind of many people. In years past, fathers were not expected to take the active role in parenting that they are today. In fact, they weren’t even expected to be in the delivery room. However, this role has changed over time, and many men have welcomed this change. Fathers are now expected to be present for the birth of their child and to participate in that child’s upbringing. Some have argued that men now face many of the work-life balancing issues that working mothers have faced for years.

While many see this shift as a good thing, it has created some problems for California’s working fathers. In particular, it has raised issues about paid paternity leave and employment discrimination. In California, some men may be eligible for time off for the birth of their child under employment laws including California’s family leave program or the Family Medical Leave Act. While California’s program will offer some compensation, the FMLA does not.

Without these government programs, many men are out of luck when it comes to paternity leave. According to some, only 12 percent of U.S. employers offer any type of paid paternity leave. This forces fathers that want to be present following the birth of their child to use sick time or vacation time. In order to address this problem, the White House recently held a summit to discuss corporate policies and issues for working fathers.

In addition to these issues with pay, many men who choose to take paternity leave are facing workplace discrimination for taking the time off. Data suggest that men who take off time following the birth of a child have lower lifetime wages as a result. Furthermore, many men feel like they face other missed opportunities by staying away from the office.

Men and women should know their rights when they need to take leave following the birth of a child. Similarly, California employers at a minimum need to respect their employee’s rights to have their jobs held open during an unpaid leave following a pregnancy.

Source: Fortune, “New dads confront uphill battle for paternity leave,” Katherine Reynolds Lewis, June 10, 2014

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