Everyone wins when fathers have access to paid family leave

Father’s Day is right around the corner and you know what? Times, they are a changin’, and today, fathers are taking more time off to care for their children than they did in the past. But like hard working moms, dads need access to paid family leave to help them care for themselves, their children, and still remain economically secure.

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Many dads want to be involved in raising their children and supporting their partners. Unfortunately, men have limited access to paid family leave policies. A national study found that only 9% of private sector workers are employed by businesses that offer paid paternity leave to all workers. Additionally, men who do take leave around the birth of a child face harassment and workplace discrimination. And, like women, men who take time off work to care for family members also face reduced earnings and career opportunities.

There needs to be a shift in attitudes about fathers as caregivers so they feel comfortable taking necessary time off to maintain their own health, bond with children, and care for family members.

Indeed, there are changing cultural attitudes in states that already have paid family leave. In California, more and more men are taking leave now to care for newborns than they did before the state’s program was implemented in 2004. Today, men make up 33% of family leave claims in the state. And in the first year of Rhode Island’s paid family leave program, new fathers took leave to care for newborns at higher rates than men did during the first year of California’s and New Jersey’s programs. These participation rates suggest that fathers are sharing in caregiving and household responsibilities with their partners and when men are more involved in their families, everyone benefits. For example:

  • Fathers with access to paid leave around the birth of a child are more likely to be involved in caregiving responsibilities as the child ages.
  • When fathers are more active in childrearing duties, their children have improved educational outcomes and stronger emotional health.
  • Father who are close with their children live longer, are less likely to have mental and physical health problems, and are more productive at work.

So you see, moms are not the only ones that benefit from paid family leave policies. In truth, when both parents have access to workplace policies that help them balance work and family demands, everyone wins. For this Father’s Day, let’s think about one of the best gifts we can give dads in this country, a little time off to be with their families.

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