According to a study of working fathers by theCenter for Work and Family at Boston College,three quarters of men who do not receive paternity leave take off work for aweek or less after the birth of a child, and sixteen percent are unable to takeany days off. Paternity leave is an employee benefit that allows a father totake time off from his job after the birth or adoption of their child (ILO). Fora grueling nine months, women all over the world participate in the action ofcarrying a human life. When the baby is delivered, maternity leave is grantedto the women who gave birth so that they can spend time recovering andnurturing their newborn. A life cannot be created without the equalcontributions of both man and woman. Despite this, women are granted maternityleave while most men do not receive paternity leave at all. Many fathers aredenied the rights that mothers automatically are granted as if they are lesserof a parent.
This social issue negatively affects mothers, children, andfathers in most parts of the world because many bad things happen when thefather is absent from a child’s life. The presence of the father in a child’slife when it is a newborn has a major impact on the relationship that thefather and child have in the future. Although this problem is present in manyparts of the world, it is prevalent in the United States because it is the onlydeveloped country in the world that does not provide paid paternity leave(Lord). Paternity leave is an important social issue that needs to be resolvedbecause it allows an easier transition to life with a child for both the motherand father. It also begins the process of building a loving and supportiveenvironment for a baby to grow up in.
Although giving birth to children is abeauty that is available exclusively to women, men should be granted paternityleave from their jobs because it gives the mother the extra help she needs,allows women to become more successful in the workforce, and it encourages the equalitybetween both genders. First appearing in theearly 1980s, the idea of paternal leave surfaced when more women in Americabegan to enter the workforce. Due to the large amount of women that were nowworking, something had to be done about women who also were having children.Thus, maternity leave was created. Today, more than 120 nations provide paidmaternity leave (ILO). The concept of paternity leave is a newer idea and isnot available to men worldwide.
This is because socially men are not portrayedas the caretakers, they are instead seen more as the worker. Paid paternityleave is also uncommon in the United States. An act of Congress called theFamily and Medical Leave Act also known as FMLA requires public agencies andprivate employers with more than fifty workers to provide eligible employeeswith twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a year.
This time may be used to care forsick family members, to handle a personal illness, or to look after a newbornor newly adopted child. To be eligible for FMLA the employee must have beenemployed with the company for twelve months, must have worked at least 1,250hours during the twelve months prior to the start of FMLA leave and theemployer is the one who employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius ofthe worksite (ILO). However, thedownside to this is that the time off does not always come with pay. Providing men with the option of takingpaternity leave gives the mother the extra help she needs. Having just enduredthe pain of childbirth, the human body needs time to heal and recover. Forexample, data suggests that nearly 80% of early postpartum mothers reportcesarean section or episiotomy site pain and breast pain; and nearly one-thirdreport urinary incontinence (Howell).
Taking care of a child while undergoingall of this pain is completely ludicrous, when all of this could have simplybeen avoided by allowing men to be around for assistance. According to StephenJones, “They his father and father in law also do not understand that ourgeneration has a division of responsibilities at home now between husband and wife.”(Chanen).
As a father, the role that he has is as important as the mother’s. Both partiesare responsible for co-parenting the child and neither has more importance thanthe other. Dads who take paternity leave end up spending 23 percent more oftheir time on household chores than dads who do not (Patnaik). Furthermore,when women have children, they are automatically granted the privilege oftaking maternity leave. In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act — passedby the federal government in 1993 — provides eligible employees 12 weeks ofunpaid time off during the first 12 months after birth to care for a newborn (FMLA(Family & Medical Leave)). The time spent away from their jobs has drasticeffects on women’s place in their work field.
As stated by Liza Mundy,anticipating that women will disappear for long periods of time, managersbecome reluctant to hire them into senior positions, and female workers are shunted (or shunt themselves)into lower-paying sectors. With paternity leave also intact, the pressure forwomen to solely stay at home and take care of their children is lifted. It alsoallows women to have a better playing field when it comes to being consideredfor certain jobs. With men being more absent in the work place, other women arebeing considered for better jobs and have more benefits in their currentpositon. A 2010 study by the Swedish Institute of Labour Market PolicyEvaluation found that a mother’s future earnings increased 7% for every monththat her partner took parental leave (Johansson). It stands to reason thatpolicies that allow childcare needs to be met but do not place the burden ofcare explicitly on women increase the chances that women can build the businessacumen and professional contacts necessary to qualify for a corporate board(Noland). Since the days of hunting andforaging, women and men gender roles have always been engrained in society. Themen are portrayed as the ones who are supposed to go out and provide for thefamily while the women are expected to stay home and tend to the children andthe house.
Women are not seen as being able to work and juggle taking care oftheir family as well. An oft-cited reason for women not reaching the top of thecorporate ladder is the so-called mommy track—the diminished careeropportunities faced by women who bear or might bear children (Noland). Today in the world, many are trying to breakout of the male and female stereotypes.
Men who attempt to participate fully intheir child’s life are often frowned upon by society. This act pushes people placemen and women into specific gender roles. Diminishing certain gender roles alsoincludes promoting gender equality by offering males time off when theirsignificant other has a child or they adopt. As argued by Daddy Warriors, the lack of leave for men means they cannot bondwith their children in the same way as mothers who are granted leave under thelaw do (Melamed). Fathers are seen as a secondary character in their children’slives due to work. When given the opportunity, men arealso hesitant to take paternity leave.
There are plenty of reasons thatcontribute to this action. Perception by their colleagues and bosses influencetheir decision. Constantly being viewed as the breadwinner makes men feelalmost inadequate if they were to take time off to tend to their households.Bosses expect men whose only responsibility is to work while their wives takecare of everything else. Men who attemptto participate fully as the role of a parent face potential harm to theircareers and no approval from their colleagues.
Men also tend to not takeadvantage of paternity leave also because they cannot afford to. Within thesmall percentage of companies that offer paid paternity leave, the paid timeoff does not always amount to the salary the employee would be getting if theyhad continued to work. According to BostonCollege’s Center for Work and Families, more than 80 percent of fatherssaid that they would need to be paid 70 percent or more of their salary to taketime off, and 45 percent said it would have to be 100 percent.
With theaddition of a new member or members to a family comes a greater economicneed. A steady source of income isneeded to successfully keep the household afloat. In addition, if the mother isnurturing and recovering, it has to be the father who has to fulfill this task.
Additionally, men are tentative totake advantage of paternity leave because it is simply not offered to them.Many heads of companies are not fond of giving leave to their male employees ifthey already are giving it to their female employees. A large population of theUnited States believe that men’s main focus should be providing for theirfamily while on the other hand women should be taking care of it. Only about 15percent of employers offer some form of paid paternity leave. In addition,among the other 85 percent, not all of those companies are covered under theFamily and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaidleave for eligible employees after the birth or adoption of a child (ILO). One could easily believe that menshould not receive paternity leave because they are not the ones that givebirth and have to stay home to recover from the process. Men are not the beingsthat carry a child for nine months.
A child that rearranges organs and puts thehuman body in so much pain and stress. However, the fact remains that to make achild, an equal contribution from both the mother and the father is needed.Just because the mother is the one carrying the child does not mean that, sheis more entitled to the child than its own father is. Men have every right totake advantage of opportunities given to them so that they can bond with theirchild as much as the mother does. It is important for a father to dedicate timeto build a healthy relationship with their child. Babies are very social andspend a lot of time wanting to know about their surroundings and it is crucialfor a child to register their father as a parent and not just theircaretaker.
It may also be argued that thefather has nothing to recover from so they do not need time off. Nevertheless,when women give birth their bodies are in desperate need to recover hence theidea of maternity leave. Along with allowing their bodies to return to itsnormal state of health, they also have to worry about taking care of a newborn.
Attending to the needs of a newborn, which includes feeding, bathing, etc. canbe very tiresome. Being expected to do all of this along with taking care ofthemselves can become very stressful and is an unrealistic expectation. Withthe fathers being around, women are given more of a helping hand around thehouse and reduces their stress. The opposition could also argue thatfathers can easily go to work and be able to interact with their child whenthey return. However, just like babies, new parents have a lot to learn and itwill not be easy learning the ins and outs of taking care of a child. It willtake more time to figure out how to gain confidence and skill in all thingsregarding the child then a working father can give.
Simple tasks such asburping a baby, feeding them, and changing their diapers are things that haveto be learned and perfected. Mothers are already at an advantage because it issocially acceptable for them to take leave. If men are not able to be around togain all of this knowledge then the mother will gain a better understanding andthe father will be seen as less of a parent.
In summary, paternity leave is anoption that should be available to fathers all around the globe. Men deservethe same ability to have leave from work just as women do because neitherparent is more important than the other. Paternity leave should be granted tomen because it offers another helping hand around the house. Women need time torecover from just giving birth and with the father present to help the motherdoes not have to feel so overwhelmed. Allowing men to go on paternity leavealso increases women’s success in the workforce.
Without plenty of men working,available women are hired for higher positions and get a higher paycheck.Additionally, it is important for men to have paternity leave because doing soeliminate gender stereotypes. Assuming that men can work constantly anduninterruptedly to provide for their families is pushing the practice ofspecific gender roles. Most bosses and colleagues are under the assumption thatwives are to stay at home and care for the house and the youth. This causes mento not really be present in their children’s lives and this is known to causeproblems throughout their adolescent and adult lives.
Men are also hesitant totake paternity leave because they cannot afford to, are afraid of judgement, orit is not offered. Enabling paternity leave for men is beneficial to fathers,mother, and children all over the world.