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Fatherly Is Testifying to the House About Paid Leave. Here’s Why

On Thursday, Fatherly's co-founder, Mike Rothman, is testifying in front of the House Ways & Means Committee to advocate for federal paid leave.

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On Thursday, May 27, in a live stream that starts at 10 a.m. EST, Fatherly’s co-founder Mike Rothman is testifying for the House Ways & Means Committee on the importance of, and urgency for Congress to pass, federal family and medical leave.

As a company, Fatherly was born out of the acknowledgment that dads have been underserved in traditional media and haven’t been recognized for their changing role as caregivers and at times primary parents. 

Fatherly’s mission is to empower men to raise great kids and lead more fulfilling lives. We do this, primarily, through journalism, offering expert-driven resources for dads on everything from public policy to developmental milestones to how to talk to teachers to the best games for kids and how to divide labor fairly in a relationship.

To that end, advocating for gender-neutral, inclusive, federal paid family and medical leave has been a part of the mission editorially since nearly day one. From deep interviews to investigative reports and our Best Places to Work guides, Fatherly has focused on federal paid leave — and the vast importance it has to dads, moms, daughters, sons, and siblings. It has become one of the linchpins of our public policy coverage. 

As a result of this focus on paid leave as well as his own experience running a small business, Mike Rothman will testify to the House Ways and Means Committee about the importance and necessity of passing a federal paid leave plan in the United States.

Why push for paid leave? For one, nearly every other developed and wealthy country in the world has some form of paid leave from 2 to 21 months. In fact, the United States stands alone in how little it provides to working parents, and how much it expects from them in return.

Here are five other reasons we’re testifying.

  • Because paid leave is good for companies, and it’s been good for ours. Dozens of studies have found that paid family and medical leave reduce worker turnover, has no adverse effect, or even a positive effect, on productivity, and increases or has no adverse effect on company morale. Before we enacted our paid leave policies, Fatherly missed out on great, mid-career level talent that went elsewhere for said benefits — harming our growth in the process. 90 percent of businesses in California under the state’s paid leave plan said that the program increased worker productivity, and 99 percent of companies surveyed said that the program had positive, or neutral, effects on employee morale, according to the National Partnership for Working Families.
  • Because paid leave is good for workers, and work. Studies have found, time and time again, that paid leave access increases relationship happiness, parental bonding, decreases stress, and leads to better health outcomes. It lessens burnout. All of these things are good for workers, but they’re also good for the companies people work for. Of dozens of studies that Richard J. Petts has done on the subject, he’s found that paternity and parental leave leads to happier marriages, decreased risk of divorce, and stronger bonds with children.
  • Because it’s one thing for Fatherly to report on the importance of paid leave; but rather importantly, we are strong advocates within the company for it. While Fatherly’s editorial output has long focused on the importance of paid leave, it took a bit of time before we began to advocate for, and push, gender-neutral, generous paid parental leave within the company. Now we offer four months of gender-neutral parental leave, a best-in-class offering for paid leave, like that offered at places like Deloitte, a massive international company. The Department of Labor reports that only 15 percent of companies with 99 or fewer employees have access to paid leave, much fewer people than those who work at big companies. A federal paid leave plan shouldn’t be something you get only if you work at a massive corporation.
  • Because offering paid leave is great. But that’s just one part of the battle. It is simply not enough to offer paid leave and never bring it up again. Studies from folks like Dr. Jennifer Berdahl have shown that toxic work culture, and work culture that values long hours, after-work obligations, and limitless time for work devalue parents and also make it harder for them to feel empowered to take the leave they are offered through company benefits. Fatherly is advocating for a families-first company culture where managers visibly take and encourage employees to take, the full suite of the benefits offered to them. Flexibility has to be modeled in order for it to actually exist.

Ultimately, the fight for paid leave can’t stop at good companies doing the right thing. Because for as long as that happens, only those with salaries and full-time jobs will have access to an essential benefit offered around the world, and having access to this essential benefit will make workers subject to what they do. 

Universal paid parental leave would be a massive step forward for workers, employers, and families in the United States. It’s time.