Although there are many milestones in a man’s life, the birth or adoption of a child has to be one of the top. Ideally, new fathers will have adequate time to care for their newborns and help with their early development. While maternity leave is fairly common for women, paternity leave for men doesn’t receive nearly the same attention.
But with new attitudes toward this topic, some employers are getting on board and offering paternity leave. Let’s now dig a little deeper into this matter and see if it’s right for your company.
What is Paternity Leave?
According to Baby Center, paternity leave is defined as “the time a father takes off work at the birth of adoption of a child.” In terms of the length of time allowed off, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that eligible employees can have up to 12 weeks within the first year of a child’s life.
The interesting thing about the U.S. when compared to many other countries is that paternity leave has by no means been a top priority for employers in the past. In fact, there are only three states that currently have paid family leave programs — California, Rhode Island and New Jersey. All of the other states allow eligible fathers to take time off, but it doesn’t have to be paid, and businesses with under 50 employees are exempt.
The question is, “Should you consider offering your employees paternity leave?”
The Pros of Offering Paternity Leave
Because there are only three states that have implemented programs, there’s somewhat limited data to determine what effects it has on profitability and other key areas of business. However, there are a couple of studies that suggest that it has a positive overall impact on both profitability and employee retention.
A study performed by economists on 253 firms in California found that 91 percent of firms that paid family leave had a positive or neutral effect on profitability and employee performance — and 89 percent said the same on productivity. This study also found that it increased employee retention in lower-skilled jobs with the retention rate being 83 percent for companies who offered leave and 74 percent for those who didn’t.
The Boston College Center for Work and Family also conducted a survey that analyzed paternity leave from a recruitment perspective and found that 90 percent of men who were thinking of having another child said it was important to have paid time off when caring for a newborn, and 60 percent said it was extremely or very important.
So when you break it all down, paternity leave can actually improve profitability, increase retention and aid in recruiting. Not to mention that it promotes gender equality in the workplace.
The Drawback of Offering Paternity Leave
One of the biggest negatives of offering paternity leave is that it can potentially be disruptive to operations when a member of your team is absent for an extended period of time. This may create scheduling conflicts and put additional stress on the rest of your staff. In some cases, you may even need to find temporary workers to fill in the gaps until your employee returns. In turn, this can put a strain on operations and potentially be a hindrance to productivity.
When you look objectively at paternity leave, there appear to be more advantages than disadvantages of offering it to your employees. While it’s true that it can temporarily throw a wrench in operations, the overall benefits can be profound.