Why paternity leave is as important as maternity leave

Most people understand why women need traditional maternity leave, but some may still ask why do we need paternity leave at all? The answer is that paternity leave benefits everyone – fathers, mothers, children, employers, and all working men and women in general.

For starters, offering paternity leave removes the stigma associated with women of childbearing years in the workforce. In a recent survey of about 200 senior-level women in tech firms in the San Francisco Bay Area (an industry that has embraced more generous leave policies for parents) an alarming 75% reported being asked questions about their marital status, plans for having kids or their child-care arrangements during a job interview. Never mind that its technically illegal to ask these questions, but are their male peers being asked the same questions? The fact is, women are still held back from a promotion, passed over for a job or simply judged differently than their male peers if they are in a certain age range. When paternity leave is offered it levels the playing field for men and women in terms of how employers look at employees and their potential to take family leave while at their company.

In addition, when fathers and partners are able to take leave it lessens the economic effects on a new mother’s career and decreases wage loss for women. In Sweden, where fathers can take up to two months off with a new child, incomes for mothers increased 7% for every month of paternity leave that their husbands took. In short, paternity leave advances gender equality in the workplace, which is good for everyone.

Paternity leave also has a very real and positive effect on children and the division responsibilities in child-care. Studies show that a dad who takes time off after the birth of his child stays more involved in child-care long term, helping to share the burden of these responsibilities between partners. For example, a dad who takes two or more weeks off after the birth of his child continues to be more involved in tasks like changing diapers, feeding and bathing later on. This helps children bond with their fathers as well as lessens the burden of child-care on mothers primary caregivers, which is vitally important in making working families work.

List Your Leave believes that all employees are entitled to fair and equal leave policies, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Our site captures leave benefits for all and that includes paternity leave. Many companies are beginning to understand the need for family leave for both partners – make sure they know how important this is to making working families work and list any paternity leave policies and reviews on List Your Leave.