Papa Don’t Leave

Papa Don’t Leave

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Infographic showing paternity leave around the world:

GOOD.is | Infographic: Papa Don't Leave (Flash version)

Raw image version

The United States is at the bottom. Surprise! Another stake in the heart of so-called family values.

When my first was born, I really saw just how anti-family the corporate world is, even in this state. Mom stays home. Dad works. The end. I will say that the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act played a role in my ability to be at home during a period of intense crisis. Most men in the U.S. don’t take the leave that is legally provided. While it is unpaid leave, if you know you are going to be a father, you can plan for your leave and save. I was unaware back then that the leave act didn’t just cover birth or adoption, but also family members with serious health conditions.

Hat tip: Caleb Gardner’s Twitter feed.

  • My_way

    I live in Canada and my husband opted to not take his paternity leave with our first baby (our system gives us a total number of weeks per family, it doesn’t matter if it is the mom or dad taking it) as it made more financial sense for me to take the time (one whole year… yeehaw!) although he did take vacation time when the baby was born. When our second child was born, I was already at home and so he took 4 months off… it was fabulous. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • http://blurbomat.com/wordpress/ blurb

      Glad to hear! I was very happy to be self-employed when Marlo was born. Made a huge difference to be able to be there in a way I couldn’t with Leta.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YC2FRNJ3L5AMWDS7A2MP5XVL34 Michelle

    How do smaller companies/non-profits afford to do this? Is there any exemption for small businesses? Otherwise, this results in a major expense for the business or someone is doing another job along with their own for an extended time.

    • My_way

      The companies do just what they do when a woman takes her maternity leave… they hire someone on a temporary basis. I was a full-time employee for a very small company (i.e. the boss and myself were the sum total) when I had my mat-leave. So, before I left I trained someone to take my place. The person who replaced me was more than happy to sign on for a temporary job because it was going to be a minimum of nine months and most likely a year (although it wound up being permanent as I didn’t go back). My boss was happy with my replacement, my replacement was happy, I was happy… I fail to see a down-side? It wouldn’t be any different for fathers, except that they may not choose to be home with the baby for as long.

    • http://blurbomat.com/wordpress/ blurb

      The law is for companies with 50 or more employees. A good company/boss would find a way to make it work regardless of the company size. This situation is a good reason the U.S. is falling behind in how we think about healthcare and parenting. Other countries are doing it better.

      I keep thinking about what companies do as a primary thing and for most companies, they also have to be good at healthcare insurance options. Seems screwy to have a company whose competencies have nothing to do with healthcare… I bring this up because I think there should be some incentives a society grants to businesses that would help give people termporary employment and encourage both parents to be at home with newborns longer than a week or two. I can’t see that as a losing proposition. I’ll stop there before I spin out of control and burst into flames.

      • chernevik

        Arrgghh how can you get so much right and get this stuff so wrong? But brother, so long as you get the stuff closest to you right I’ll never much care how wrong your politics are.

        If you’re feeling grumpy and looking for a fight, say the word, I’ve got some displaced grump of my own to move. Otherwise I’ve too much work / its too nice an evening to troll your thread.

      • http://twitter.com/malber1 malber1

        I am one of those small companies. I run a small hotel in New Orleans with 15 employees. We are rarely slow. I have happily held positions for two maternity leaves since I took over 2 1/2 years ago. I now have a housekeeper who is pregnant, but choosing to keep this information to herself. She is heavy-set, so it is not readily obvious that she is pregnant. She has told other employees that she will tell me when she is ready, and not to tell me. I am irate that she does not realize the burden losing a person for 3 months will place on this business, and that I should be allowed to plan for the situation. I am lucky her fellow employees felt I should know. I do not have “extra” employees. If I did not need you, you would not be employed by me. Apparently the plan is just to walk into my office one day and tell me she will be out for 3 months. I couldn’t do it in the end, but I really want to tell her that she can then be gone for good.
        Sorry to be ranty, but this is a touchy subject for me right now!

      • LarryTheWatchDog

        China, Japan and the United States are economic powers for a reason – Unlike many European countries that play more and work far less. I was fortunate enough to have 6 weeks of paid leave when my baby was born, not because my employer was generous – I just didn’t call in sick to play golf or stay home because I was hung over or take any silly vacations that consumed money we could be saving I didn’t miss a day for almost 2 years, which allowed me to accrue my time…We should all stop our bitching and putting the burden of our needs on the evil empire and take a little more accountability by making more sacrifices on our own part. Listen, if you know your wife/girlfriend and/or sister is pregnant – you have more than enough time to get your time off squared away. Geez, FML serves it’s purpose – it protects your job while you tend to family needs, I do not think it’s the companies responsibility to keep paying while you take time off for choices you may or may not have made.

        • Carol Sorensen

          Dude, country that is doing the best in the world right now? GERMANY.
          And la di dah to those of you that can save. You are lucky.

          • LarryTheWatchDog

            Per capita, Netherlands has a stronger economy than Germany – The Germans have a higher GDP, for obvious reasons…But whatever.

            • http://blurbomat.com/wordpress/ blurb

              You don’t get off the hook that easy, buddy. :-)

              Netherlands/Germany. Germany is a better comparison point to the U.S. Your point, if I read your comment correctly, was that you feel like employees should not be paid for paternity/maternity leave. You feel like a policy that gave paid paternity leave would somehow weaken the economy and put an unfair burden on corporations. If I’m correct in reading your comment, there are a few points you are either ignoring or maybe haven’t had a conversation around.

              We are behind the world in our thinking. Period. We aren’t leading. instead of clinging to notions that clearly haven’t worked, we need to innovate. Take the best of the systems and adapt to our size, etc.

              I can’t think of a single reason that fathers shouldn’t be at home for at least three months after the birth of their child. Short and long term benefits all around, including productivity and an economy boon for short term hiring of temporary or contract workers.

              Finally, your thinking is outdated. It’s expensive to replace employees. If you have a great employee who wants to be a father, why wouldn’t you offer paternity leave as an incentive to work for a company? Most new parents don’t sleep much those first months. How productive is an employee who has had 3 hours of sleep? How much better would our culture/society/workplace be if we balanced the need for productive workers with the notion that we want to create a place people want to live and work?

              Yeah, there’s gonna be pain for a company. There are ways to minimize that pain. It’s not like a birth suddenly happens. There is plenty of time to plan. A good HR department could have a program set up to interview and hire short term employees for a person on leave, allowing the person going on leave to interview and train. SIde benefit: the short term employee gets a taste of working at a company that might be a foot in the door and lead to full-time work.

              The U.S. is behind the curve and we need to be honest about that and then innovate through our way ahead.

            • LarryTheWatchDog

              I really do not know where to start other than with the obvious. It is no more the companies responsibility than it is the condom makers problem. A smart forward-thinking couple will think this process through, looooooong before they decide to give birth to a tax write-off. If I am understanding you, you think a company should offer as an incentive paid paternity/maternity leave? Seriously? You also believe the company should hire/train a temp for the time in which the parent is out? Seriously? Is this your way of solving the employment crisis? What about the company that now has to pay 2 salaries for one position? How does this benefit them? What about the people who don’t have kids or who already have had kids prior to their employment? What incentives do they get for showing up every day and being good workers? No one employee and I repeat no one employee is greater than the sum of the company? If that employee is that mich better than everyone else – that you are willing to pay 2 salaries for the one employee – well then you my friend need to have a better filtering system when hiring.
              When you say we are behind the world in our thinking, what specifically are you referrring to? Again, Japan and the U.S. are economic powers, not because they placate their masses with “Holidays” every other month, they do it by hard word driven by the incentive of being employed….Please tell me how paid paternity/maternity leave is going to change the job market; when it is actually going to put a burden on the employers financially. Statistically speaking I have no idea what percentage of people would use Paternity leave in a company of say 100 people….But even if you go with a low number like say 10 employees(10%) – That amounts to 30 months of salary that could be put to hiring full time employees – That is how you change the job market around – sound fiscal thinking, backed by fiscal responsibility.
              Alas, Like you, I have 2 young kids…I haven’t had a full nights sleep in probably 4.5 years; but I knew that going into the game and I knew the sacrifices I would have to make long before my twins were born.

  • http://twitter.com/AllisonCross Allison Cross

    It’s worth noting that in Canada, the burden doesn’t fall on employers. Sure, they have to find someone to replace you for six months or a year, but in this country, we pay into employment insurance. We draw from that when we go on parental leave. It’s not a lot of money but man, it helps. I can’t imagine living in the U.S. Do day cares really take babies who are 13 weeks old??

  • http://www.ryanwaddell.com Ryan Waddell

    I took 3 months’ leave with my firstborn at the end of his first year. It was AMAZING. I’m planning on taking 4 months with our little girl. But yes, as others have mentioned – in Canada, it’s not really “paid” leave. We go on unemployment. Some companies will top up, and pay you the difference between what unemployment pays, and your salary, but very few do so these days. Unemployment maxes out at something like $465 a week (or 40% of your salary, whatever is less), which isn’t terrible, but it definitely makes things a bit tight.

    Oh, and yeah – those 245 days that fathers can take? That’s *only* if the mother goes back to work after 17 weeks. There’s 52 weeks total leave allowed to be split between both parents, the mother gets 17 weeks maternity leave, then the mother and father decide how to split the remaining 35 weeks. What infuriates me is the people who say “Oh, your life *let* you take some of her mat leave? That’s so nice of her!” – no, she didn’t *let* me, it’s leave that I’m entitled to. The assumption in our society that fathers have no interest in, or right to, the decisions made in raising a child absolutely astounds me.

    • Amanda Turner

      Unemployment varies state to state here, the state I am in gives you $275 (maximum) a week! How can you even live off of that?