Paternity leave a critical benefit for many dads

By BenefitsPro


By Dan Cook

There is labor, and there is labor of love. A new study assessing fathers’ attitudes toward paternity leave indicates dads are more likely to want to perform the former for an employer who will give them time off to engage in the latter, which includes changing diapers, burping and cooking.

The data comes to us just before Father’s Day from the Boston College Center for Work & Family. The center gathered data from more than 1,000 fathers from 300 organizations.

Let’s see what the dads had to say. One note: When asked how much time they took off after a new baby was born, the dads included a combination of paid paternity leave (PPL), parental leave, vacation/PTO, holiday time and sick time or personal absence days. Their responses were not necessarily any indication of how much PPL their employer offered.

Highlights of their feedback include:

How important is paternity leave to you, dad?
  • 89 percent said they took paid paternity leave into consideration when deciding whether or not to take a job.
  • Of those, 60 percent rated access to paid paternity leave as very/extremely important.
  • 99 percent said employers should offer paid paternity leave, with 74 percent suggesting that two to four weeks is an appropriate amount.
  • Three-quarters of fathers said they’d prefer PPL time flexibility so they wouldn’t have to use it all right after the baby was born; most see it as part of the life-work balance they seek when selecting an employer.
  • Money mattered to them, as 86 percent of fathers said that “they would only take time off if they were paid at least 70 percent of their salary and 45 percent indicated they would require full salary to take their full leave.”
How much time do you take, pop?
  • Most dads (39 percent) got two weeks of PPL, with 19 percent getting more than two weeks. A quarter received one week; 18 percent took less than a week.
  • For those who took more than two weeks, the highest percentage — 8 percent — fell in the “eight weeks or more” category. Six percent got three weeks, 4 percent four weeks, and 1 percent took five weeks.
  • The more children fathers had, the lower the number of weeks they took off.
What did you do with your PPL?
  • They pitched in while on PPL, the respondents said, taking on such chores as child care and diaper changing (90 percent said they did that) and food shopping, house cleaning and meal prep (80 percent did that).
“Organizations that want to retain their best talent must acknowledge that fathers are playing a more active role in their families, and consider paternity leave as an essential benefit,” said Brad Harrington, principle author of the study. “This issue is highly connected to women's advancement, as men being more active in caregiving can have a tremendous impact on women’s ability to succeed and thrive in the workplace.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com