Chatter about paternity leave is trending across the globe since Prince William returned to his princely duties after the birth of his son. We’re curious why so many men feel a stigma about taking time off work to connect with their just-born offspring.
Fifteen percent of U.S. companies give paid leave to new fathers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management survey published this summer. Then we have major corporations like Yahoo!, Ernst and Young and Bank of America offer male workers six to 12 weeks full paid leave when they have a baby, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Companies are catching on – slowly, but it’s a start. Dads, however, not as quickly.
“Many men are still reluctant to take the time out of fear of losing respect at work and coming off as less dedicated to their career,” says Chris Duchesne, Vice President of Global Workplace Solutions for Care.com
The opportunity for paternity leave is more commonplace, but getting guys to take it is another issue altogether.
PayScale development manager Emmett Doerr feels otherwise.
“This was something I really wanted to do,” says Doerr, 34, who took time off from April 1 to July 1 to spend time with his first child. “I didn’t want to be the parent who didn’t know their kid. I want to know my daughter.”
Some of the hesitation for other men, Doerr suggests, may come from the fact that they’re the breadwinners and don’t have the flexibility of taking time off. Doerr’s wife works for Amazon, so she was able to take three months off two months before her husband. They overlapped a month off together, then she went back to work May 1.
“I feel very fortunate that it worked out like that,” says Doerr, an eight-year PayScale employee whose leave was unpaid. “Our situation was ideal.”
Another source of the stigma may come from the feeling that an extended break from work will hurt a career. Maybe six months, Doerr says, but not really three. For a long time, family leave was the working woman’s cross to bear, but as more men take advantage of the option, it’s evening out.
“Some men may think it reflects negatively on their work ethic to take that much time off,” he says. “But after you’ve been at work for several years, a few months is actually a well-deserved break. I feel like it didn’t negatively impact my career growth. If it were six months, then maybe, but I think three months is actually a short enough period to come back and not feel totally out of the loop.”
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