Despite the fact that paternity leave can be a game-changer for companies, many do not offer this highly coveted benefit.
It might even surprise you to know that the US continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to parental leave in general. For new family additions (through birth or adoption), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers parental leave.
Under FMLA, new parents can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave with a guarantee that your job will be there for you when you return. But while FMLA is technically available, only 60% of the workforce can even take it because it’s only available to those who work at companies with 50 or more employees.
Additionally, most new parents forego the leave because it’s unpaid, and ultimately, they can’t afford it. Paternity leave, in particular, is not covered under any type of national paid leave policy.
While 92 countries worldwide offer paternity leave to new dads, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the US. The list of countries with the most generous paid leave programs includes Japan, South Korea, and Spain. These countries offer new dads paid time off for 30 weeks, 15 weeks, and 12 weeks respectively. In America, individual states have taken it upon themselves to mandate this type of leave policy.
To date, only eight states have paternity leave laws including:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New York
The importance of paternity leave
Paternity leave benefits the family in several ways. Perhaps the most important benefit is that new dads who take paternity leave are more engaged with their children long-term. And research has shown that these early bonds tend to have a ripple effect on the child throughout their childhood to include fewer behavioral problems and improved cognitive development.
Moreover, paternity leave has been linked to lower divorce rates. Undoubtedly that may be because women no are no longer required to bear the brunt of new parenting responsibilities. Not to mention that parental leave for dads allows for a more equitable division of labor when it comes to household chores.
5 benefits to companies that offer paternity leave
It can boost your brand.
Those that offer parental leave for fathers could potentially give their brands an incredible boost. Companies need to stand out as an attractive employer in a competitive marketplace.
Parental leave could be the way to do that. And some companies have caught on quickly, with dozens of large companies offering this coveted benefit, among them Netflix, Starbucks, American Express, Deloitte, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
Attracts and retains top talent
And speaking of talent, companies that offer paternity leave are far more likely to attract and retain top talent in their field. Attracting the best talent is no longer just about offering the right salary. More and more job seekers are looking for additional benefits, and it behooves employers to sweeten the pot. For jobseekers with growing families, an important benefit like this can be quite attractive.
Moreover, research has shown that as much as 69% of dads say that they would leave their current employment to spend more time with their children. So when companies factor in the cost of recruiting, hiring, training, and onboarding top talent, the cost of offering paternity leave to retain that talent pales in comparison to starting from zero.
Companies can also stand to benefit from paternity leave when productivity is taken into consideration. By removing the stress of conflicting priorities (new baby vs. job responsibilities), companies are essentially sending the message that they care about their employees’ health and well-being. Once the leave is over, no doubt employees will return to work happier and more productive.
One study conducted on paternity leave in California indicated that businesses had far more to gain from offering this type of benefit to its employees. A whopping 89% of employers noted that paternity leave either had a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on employee productivity. And the same held true for profitability/performance (91%), turnover (96%), and employee morale (99%).
Equality is a two-way street
It would seem that these days the buzzwords around the water cooler are diversity and inclusion. And companies that don’t offer paternity leave are perhaps missing the mark. While maternity leave is certainly a crucial part of keeping women in the workforce, companies must partner it with a paternity leave policy to be inclusive and, yes, equal.
It makes jobs more attractive for women
Interestingly, companies stand to attract and retain top talent among the women in their industry because they offer such a benefit for their male counterparts.
The U.S. as a whole has plenty of catching up to do when it comes to parental leave. The good news is many companies are taking the lead and filling in some crucial gaps in policy. As companies continue to explore the best avenues for meeting the needs of their employees, paternity leave is one shortfall that is increasingly becoming the norm. This type of leave is invaluable to both the employee and their family. And as we’ve seen here, it can be a game-changer for employers as well.