So you’re going to have a baby. First of all, congratulations! But beyond the monthly checkups, the sonograms, the designing of the nursery, and the debate over whether the Snoo is actually worth it, comes the all-too-fraught question for American employees and parents: Can mom and dad take parental leave?
The United States has the dubious distinction of being one of the only wealthy, developed OECD nations that does not mandate federally funded paid parental leave for all workers. Instead, being able to take paid parental leave — or parental leave at all — is largely a matter of where you work, the type of manager you have, what your workplace culture is like, or, quite frankly, whether or not you work a white-collar office job, where such benefits are generally expected and offered (though not necessarily used).
Parents Will Take Time off After Baby in Some Form — Whether or Not It’s Paid
The birth parent is expected to take parental leave whether it’s paid or not, even if that’s just for a few weeks. But when it comes to dads, taking parental leave is a bit more complicated. Many dads report not feeling incentivized by their workplace to take leave for fear of being “mommy-tracked” if they do. In other words, the penalties that have always been in place for moms are starting to hit dads as the definition of fatherhood changes.
But the Government Needs to Pass Paid Parental Leave
The toll that not offering parental leave to all workers across the country has on the economy, and on public health, cannot be understated. That’s why federal paid leave is so important.
The best way to combat the stigma, and economic toll, of taking or not being able to take parental leave is to pass a federal paid parental leave program. But in the meantime, while various paid parental leave programs get debated in the halls of Congress, working parents are having babies right now. And they have a lot of decisions to make.
That’s why Fatherly put together this Guide to Parental Leave — including research on how important it is for moms and dads alike to take that time; research on who gets to take leave and why; interviews with experts about the best policy options being discussed right now; and practical advice on how to approach managers on taking leave.