Dads on Paternity Leave: Thanks or No Thanks?

You might think your flex-time policies for working moms are fair, but are you doing enough to promote a healthy work-life balance for working dads as well?

Just in time for Father’s Day, two new surveys are casting light on a growing trend in the United States — working dads are seeking work-life balance in the same manner as working moms.

Given the war for talent and looming skills shortage, employers need to recognize that offering benefits such as flexible work arrangements and paid paternity leave is a key tactic for recruiting and retaining talent.

In fact, eight in 10 working dads would view your company more positively if you offered flex-time benefits, assuming such benefits were viewed as “acceptable” and communicated openly throughout the company.

However, some dads are fearful of taking advantage of a benefit that traditionally has been reserved for new moms. According to the latest Workplace Insights survey by Adecco USA, 59% of working dads would not take paternity leave if it were offered, citing harm to their career, heavy workload, and co-workers and clients depending on them.

However, the main reason cited came down to economics. Those polled by Adecco say they would simply be unable to afford paternity leave even if it did pay partial salary, which is rare in the United States.

“Fathers probably face more pressure to stay on the job more than mothers do when a baby comes along. Now it’s the employers’ turn to do a better job of implementing benefits and policies that allow for dads to achieve sustainable work-life balance,” explains Bernadette Kenny, Adecco’s chief career officer.

While 72% of dads polled by Adecco named the ability to work flexible hours as one of the most appealing benefits, a new Monster poll indicates that when searching for a job, 82% of working dads view companies more positively if they offer a flex-time benefit.

If Money Were No Object

According to the Monster Intelligence Father’s Day survey, 71% of dads with a child under five took paternity leave when offered, compared with just 48% of dads with a school-aged child, indicating that dads are increasingly embracing work/life benefits.

Approximately one-third of dads with toddlers reported that their employer provided paternity leave benefits or flexible work schedules for fathers; among working men whose employers offered paternity leave, 58% took advantage of it, and 71% adopted flexible work schedules when it was offered by their employers.

Monster’s survey also reports that if money were no object, 68% of dads would consider being a stay-at-home parent.

Monster’s survey shows that the workplace benefit fathers appreciate most is a flexible work schedule (53%), followed by telecommuting (24%), onsite child care (12%), and paid paternity leave (10%).

Inside Monster’s Paternity Policies

At Monster, new dads typically get five days of paid paternity leave, according to Peter Castrichini, vice president of compensation, benefits, and HR operations.

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“It’s almost like having an extra vacation week,” says Castrichini. “It’s a great opportunity to let dads be home and bond with their spouse and baby. I tend to find that when they take that time, it’s not about eating bon bons, it’s about helping their spouse.”

Monster offers new moms six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, with the option to extend that to 12 weeks through a combination of paid/unpaid time.

“New moms want to return after their leave if they have flexibility when they come back. The more flexible and creative we can be, the more they want to come back to work,” says Castrichini.

Indeed, he urges companies to think creatively to attract and retain dads, too.

“Paternity benefits are great, but flexible schedules are equally important,” says Castrichini.

“If you look at what dads are saying is the most important benefit at their company, they are naming flexible work schedules and working from home as number one and number two,” he says.

While it is something that new moms have come to expect, Castrichini says more and more dads are starting to inquire about these opportunities.

“It’s a higher-valued benefit. We need to be sensitive to attract and retain the best talent,” he says.

He recommends that companies publish a flexibility policy guideline so that everyone understands what is accepted. Develop a statement from senior management that shows they are supportive of flexibility. These tools will help managers make decisions on a day-to-day basis, Castrichini explains. In addition, companies should communicate this as part of their recruitment package. Work with dads to negotiate a working environment that best suits their personal and professional needs.

“Some employees are afraid to ask, or think that it will pigeonhole their career. So companies need to come out and support it and embrace it,” he adds.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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1 Comment on “Dads on Paternity Leave: Thanks or No Thanks?

  1. In Sweden parents get 480 fully paid days parental leave. 6 months are reserved for the mother, and 6 for the father, they can be used as and when the parents want until the child’s 8th birthday (so you can take a week off for the child’s first week of school for example).

    If you’re happy to take 75% pay, you only have to use 5 of those days per week, stretching your parental leave even further…

    Oh yeah, and 5 weeks holiday per year is standard, and most workers who don’t get paid for overtime get 6 weeks holiday… That’s in addition to the 10 public holidays per year and doesn’t count sick days.

    Swedes understand the true meaning of work/life balance!

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