Parental leave on the rise

Paid Parental Leave
Paid Parental Leave

Paternity leave is becoming more and more common. Since 2015, there has been a push to expand paid time for new fathers. Large companies such as Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson have been increasing paternity leave or general gender-neutral paid leave programs.

Along with them, at least 15 other big employers have followed suit in the past year. Only one, Hilton, offers the minimum of two weeks, while Netflix offers as much time as the parent needs. Others have programs that span anywhere from 6 to 26 weeks.

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While this means that paternity leave is becoming less unusual, it does not mean that it is the norm. According to surveys by the Society for Human Resource Management, less than 20 percent of employers in the United States offer paid paternity leave.

At the same time, however, having the leave does not mean it will be utilized. A Deloitte survey says only 36 percent of men would take such leave. They cite being afraid they will lose their job as the reason why. In addition to "jeopardizing their position" at work, 41 percent said they thought they would lose opportunities for assignments at work, and over half of the over 1000 respondents said they believed spending time with their new baby would be looked at as lack of commitment to their company.

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Other statistics of the survey, however, may prove their point. Over half said that they would judge another father for taking the same amount of time off as a mother.

It might take a while for American "culture" to shift in order for paternity leave to be acceptable.

The head of Deloitte's Women Initiative, Deepa Purushothaman, said, "It's something, as a culture, we need to stress and make easier to do."

One father famously took paternity leave: Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. Zuckerberg took two months off after the birth of his daughter, Max. "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," he said of the decision.