The EEOC issued its new guidance on parental leave today. In it, they lay the basis for parity between company-offered maternity and paternity leave. In short, companies that offer mothers “time for care and bonding” beyond time for physical recovery/disability must also offer that “time for care” to fathers. This decision brings needed clarity to the emerging set of case law on paternity leave (see here, here and here) and is yet another indicator of the recognition of the importance of fatherhood and paternity leave.
This guidance is part of a larger and much more comprehensive document concerning pregnancy discrimination, disability and related employment concerns. You can read the entire document here. I’ve copied the relevant information below. After that is my analysis.
This Father’s Day, let’s call upon Congress to give dads and their families a truly meaningful present- paid parental leave. Please join me in signing a petition asking our elected representatives to pass the FAMILY Act.
I didn’t exactly take a paternity leave. I’m a college professor and my son, Nick, was born three days after my Spring semester ended. Perfect timing (although we didn’t actually plan it that way). I was able to spend the summer on a “de-facto paternity leave” with my wife, Amy, and Nick as we all got to learn how this whole “baby makes three” thing would shake out.
I was able to forge an immediate bond with my son, gain confidence as a new parent, strengthen my relationship with my wife, and emerge from the experience as a fully involved co-parent to Nick and equal parenting partner with Amy. In short, my paternity leave fundamentally shaped me as a person, parent, and spouse, and I believe it contributed to the strength and resiliency of my family.
A dad alleges that his employer retaliated against him by marginalizing and then firing him after he fought for his right to take the paid parental leave the company had in its policy manual. If true, this case speaks to the real struggle for working fathers- the fear of reprisal for visibly prioritizing family.
I have the best readers. The other day, an FWF reader sent me an email with a link to this story from the NY Post. Here’s a quick summary:
– Tonny Uy, a former senior accountant at asmallworld.net (a social networking site for millionaires), sought paternity leave when his and his husband’s daughter was born
– He was initially rebuffed, but he then pointed out the policy in the employee handbook
– The company then agreed to the 40 days (8 weeks) paid leave (which is quite generous compared to most policies)
– After taking leave, Uy contends he was treated differently by his supervisor, and a few months later, he was told his job was being eliminated. He was replaced with a part-time employee
– He alleges asmallworld changed their employee handbook, removing the paid leave benefit for all employees a few months after he returned from his leave (kinda like Cartman?)
A few caveats are in order- the only information I have about the suit is this article, and we are only getting Uy’s side of the story. However, if the alleged facts are indeed true, this situation is disturbing to me on two levels.
First, if the company has a policy on the books, employees shouldn’t have to fight for the right to avail themselves of that policy. From this article, It is not clear if asmallworld had only a maternity leave policy or a more general parental leave policy that covered both moms and dads. Further, if a policy is on the books, it should also extend to adoptive parents (I am assuming this is the case for Uy and his husband).
Los Angeles Dodger Carl Crawford will begin the 2014 baseball season on paternity leave, making use of MLB’s forward-thinking policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. I see this as yet another reason to celebrate the beginning of a new baseball season!
Baseball season starts a bit early this year, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23, a full week before traditional opening day.
However, Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford’s wife is expected to have her baby near that date, and he will be the first player of the 2014 season to avail himself of MLB’s paternity leave policy.
.@ScottBehson is absolutely right — "The Time Is Right for the #FAMILYAct": http://t.co/OueRkcNwfs #PaidFMLA — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 21, 2014 Two weeks ago, I wrote a post explaining why I thought the FAMILY Act, which would create a national paid parental leave program, is a great idea. The piece was later republished at Huffington … Read more
The FAMILY act would create a national policy of paid parental leave. Why I think this is a great idea.
When I was on NPR last week (you can listen here) to discuss paternity leave, we took lots of great phone calls from listeners. Most callers lamented their lack of available paternity leave.
One caller, however, had lived in Montreal, where new dads are entitled to up to 5 weeks of paid leave, with wage replacement up to 70% of one’s earnings. It is no wonder that more than 80 percent of new dads in Quebec take paternity leave. (for more on the benefits of paternity leave, seehere)
For those of you who are visiting Fathers, Work and Family for the first time, feel free to have a look around. More information of paternity leave here, a link to my “Greatest Hits” here, links to my work at HBR, Good Men Project and HuffPo up at the top of the page, category listings along the right-hand side, and of course, buttons you can use to follow Fathers, Work and Family via email, twitter or Facebook.
Here’s the audio:
Welcome! I hope you find this blog to be a valuable resource and that you come back soon.
Sociologist Erin Rehel conducted a fascinating research study on paternity leave and changing perceptions of masculinity. Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Rehel about her research and its implications for working dads.
Tell us a bit about your study
My research examines the connection between fatherhood, work, social policy, and shifting ideals of masculinity in the United States and Canada. I conducted 85 interviews with fathers and their partners. I find that fathers today draw think differently about masculinity and fatherhood, but there are societal and workplace barriers that force many dads to fall back into less involved parenting roles.
In this particular study, “When Dad Stays Home Too: Paternity Leave, Gender, and Parenting,” (forthcoming in Gender & Society), I argue that when fathers experience the transition to parenthood in ways similar to mothers, through formal or informal paternity leave, they come to think about and do parenting in ways that are similar to mothers.
Paternity leave provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of co-parenting creates opportunities for a more gender-equitable division of labor.
One of the things I love most about this blog is the opportunity it has given me to have conversations with so many smart, knowledgeable people. I have learned more from this blog than anyone, thanks to your comments and willingness to engage and network with me. After I posted my piece last week about Josh Levs and his important paternity leave discrimination suit, I received the following message through Linkedin from blog reader Cynthia Calvert, Esq., who is an expert in work-family employment law.
Cynthia was quoted in the NYTimes article about Levs and she believes his case to be stronger than I believed it to be in my analysis last week. After our discussion, I think she’s right. In this case, I’d be very happy to be wrong.
I found our exchange fascinating- it really helped clarify the situation for me, especially in terms of gender discrimination and the difference between parental leave for care versus physical recovery. Cynthia was nice enough to allow me to reprint our back-and-forth here. I think you’ll enjoy it.
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that recently. I know they probably don’t mean anything by it and I’m certain they gave very little thought to their words, but it still irks me something fierce. Because if you’ve ever done it, you’d know that paternity leave is most assuredly NOT a vacation.
I took two weeks of paternity leave after Sam was born. Luckily for me, they were two PAID weeks. I’m one of the fortunate few who works for a company that actually offers new dads two weeks of fully paid paternity leave. But even if my company didn’t offer the two weeks, I would’ve taken time anyway — either via vacation time or unpaid FMLA. Because I think it’s very important — hell, I’ll go so far as to say it should be mandatory — for both moms and dads to be home with the baby in the weeks following birth.
Mainly because those weeks are 1) really important and 2) really f^%&ing difficult.
Paternity leave is not just good for dads, but also for kids. A new academic study finds that men who take paternity leave are more likely to be involved in childcare activities later on, and that their kids do better on some cognitive ability tests.
1. A strong relationship between fathers’ taking paternity leave and their subsequent involvement in their children’s lives.
Baxter states, “Father’s leave is linked to more involvement in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat, changing nappies, getting up in the night, bathing and reading to a child, compared to fathers who took no leave.”
2. Some evidence of better cognitive outcomes for kids whose fathers took paternity leave.
Baxter states, “The children of fathers who take long leave after their birth are more likely to perform better in cognitive development tests and are more likely to be prepared for school at the ages of four and five.”