Happy Friday! Last month, Massachusetts passed a law requiring businesses to give eight weeks of paternity leave. That’s right, paternity leave. For the fathers. The U.S. doesn’t have a paid paternity leave policy (come on, we don’t even have a paid maternity leave policy), though the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act offers 12 weeks of protection, but only if the employee has been working for the company for over a year and the company contains over 50 people. The new law would include companies with a minimum of six employees.
Work-life balance is increasingly becoming more of a concern for men as well as women, and the concept comes sharply into focus with the addition of children. The U.S. lags behind other countries in our paternity leave policies. A 2013 Pew Research Center study examined 38 countries, and found that 25 of them have guaranteed paternity leave for new fathers. Time off can range from less than one week to over eight weeks.
Several countries that offer paternity leave are within Europe. Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Slovenia, Sweden and Germany have protected paternity leave, which would allow a new father time off secure that he’ll be able to return to his job without being fired or let go. At least a portion of this time off is required to be paid, except in Ireland.
South Korea also has a paternity leave policy, in which new fathers can take up to five days off. But parents with children under three years old can request to work part- or full-time for one year to care for their child. It appears that this policy applies to both mothers and fathers.
Hopefully this new law will push policy towards a national paid leave policy, for both mothers and fathers.