Several months ago, we wrote a blog discussing California’s generous new paid parental leave policies. However, more can be said about how employees perceive paid parental leave and why they might be hesitant to take time off from work.
A recent article published by Bloomberg discussed a study claiming new fathers are afraid to take parental leave. Why are they afraid? Apparently, for many of the same reasons women might hesitate to take parental leave. In a survey of 1,000 new fathers, more than 30 percent claimed taking parental leave would threaten their current positions. Another 41 percent claimed taking time off would threaten their chances to work on important projects.
An additional study carried out by the Families and Work Institute discovered 67 percent of fathers did not take parental leave because they felt it conflicted with their responsibilities at work.
Research has discovered that women are more likely to take leave and suffer consequences in the workplace. The Bloomberg article suggests this may be why gender wage gaps exist in countries with generous parental leave policies.
Even when company policies allow men to take paid parental leave, many only take two weeks at most. Some new fathers even work from home while on leave!
Can Society Overcome Parental Leave Stigma?
Several large California-based businesses have taken on parental leave stigma by openly supporting leave or by offering courses meant to fight the stigma. For example, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg recently made headlines for taking two months off to care for his daughter. Twitter, Netflix and Google also have generous paid parental leave policies (including for fathers!). In fact, Twitter has courses that train supervisors not to be biased against employees taking parental leave.
Although parental leave policies are becoming more generous, more can be done to fight stigma against those who take time off to care for their children.