Support dads at work, and everyone benefits.
Can we set a new standard for parental leave?
Written by
Lisanne Meerkerk
ago
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that village includes men, fathers, and non-birthing parents. Still only 44% of organizations offer paid parental leave, according to the Society for Human Resource Management[1], which makes it difficult for fathers to stay at home. While this number is rising (up from 30% in 2019 to 44% the next year), the other 56% not offering any paid parental leave is not something to celebrate.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that village includes men, fathers, and non-birthing parents. Still only 44% of organizations offer paid parental leave. Click To Tweet

There have been several studies on the positive effects of parental leave. The benefits of paternity leave begin in the home, as it is associated with greater relationship stability, and it can even mitigate maternal postpartum-depression outcomes[2]. But it is of course not limited to benefits in the private life of both parents. There are multiple positive outcomes in the workplace too. From motivation to considerations from parents to stay longer in the organization with a positive effect on turn-over. Research from Jessica Moran[3] on “Making use of work-family balance entitlements” supports that and suggests that companies with higher participation in programs designed to support working parents have higher employee retention and job satisfaction, both factors that balance out the cost of offering fatherhood benefits.

So, why don’t we give non-birthing parents the same benefits as new mothers? And considering not everyone feels comfortable taking parental leave because of career setbacks, why not make it mandatory? Click To Tweet

So, why don’t we give non-birthing parents the same benefits as new mothers? And considering not everyone feels comfortable taking parental leave because of career setbacks, why not make it mandatory? To set a new standard in parental leave and avoid even having to make a decision. That will create a culture that embraces parental leave and the impact on one’s career is calculated and expected.

Some countries already work towards this principle. Sweden, for example, was the first country in the world to introduce a parental leave giving both parents the same possibilities of staying at home with their child. They even introduced a so-called daddy-quota. This is a part of the parental leave period exclusively reserved for fathers. If the father doesn’t take his period of leave, the family loses it. Thanks to this quota, nine of 10 Swedish fathers now take leave[4]. A sidenote to this quota, is that men aren’t likely to take leave if it’s badly paid. The daddy quota is less of an incentive in countries where the mandatory pay during parental leave is low.

Luckily the government in the Netherlands considered this also an issue, as they introduced the Paid Parental Leave Act that entitles every parent to nine weeks of partially paid parental leave. As this is partially paid, imagine what a mandatory, full paid parental leave could cause. For the parents, as they split responsibilities at work and home equally. And for the employers, who benefit from high retention and job satisfaction as they offer parental leave for fathers, that extends to positive effects for women: researchers have linked fathers’ use of leave with increased earnings for the mother[5], reduced mother-absenteeism due to sickness[6] and higher female employment in private firms[7].

Women’s equality in the workplace cannot be achieved without men’s equality in the home. Click To Tweet

As women’s equality in the workplace cannot be achieved without men’s equality in the home, the plead for mandatory and paid parental leave for non-birthing parents, to me, is obvious. When we support dads at work, everyone benefits.

 

Lisanne Meerkerk is a marketing professional working for a global cybersecurity company. Now pursuing an MBA in International Business at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to broaden her knowledge and develop her career.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisannemeerkerk/

 

References

[1] https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/benefits-report.aspx

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/a-fresh-look-at-paternity-leave-why-the-benefits-extend-beyond-the-personal

[3] https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/publications/making-use-of-work-family-balance-entitlements-how-to-support-fat

[4] https://qz.com/587763/how-swedens-daddy-quota-parental-leave-helps-with-equal-parenting/

[5] https://www.ifau.se/globalassets/pdf/se/2010/wp10-4-The-effect-of-own-and-spousal-parental-leave-on-earnings.pdf

[6] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242245280_Does_Paternity_Leave_Affect_Mothers'_Sickness_Absence

[7] https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/124221468196762078/does-paternity-leave-matter-for-female-employment-in-developing-economies-evidence-from-firm-data

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