Dad Makeover: What Changes Needed for Parental Leave, Shared Duties
The $16 billion that Americans are spending on Father’s Day gifts this year, according to the National Retail Federation, compared to the $25 billion Americans spent on Mother’s Day, may reflect the amount of time spent on parenting split between most American mothers and fathers.
Many hope to close this parenting gap, particularly with national pushes for paid parental leave for all parents, including same sex and transgender parents. Equity in the home can also translate to equity in the workplace, if the “motherhood penalty” becomes a relic of the past.
While equity is a goal for so many, there is also a growing Daddy Backlash, as men report in a new study that they experience tension at work when trying to change work schedules to accommodate needs of their families.
A new study from Daddilife and Deloitte shows 59 percent of working fathers want employers to provide more flexible working possibilities. Almost half say that improving paternity leave is vital. According to the report, 45 percent of working fathers regularly experienced tension from their employer when trying to balance work and family life, demonstrating a growing disconnect between home and workplace. Another 39 percent regularly experience tension from colleagues about their paternity roles.
Another 37 percent admit that their mental health is negatively affected as a result of trying to balance work and parental responsibilities.The study also shows that 63 percent of new dads at work have requested a change in working pattern since becoming a father. Nearly 40 percent of dads have requested a change in working hours with 44 percent of them being unsuccessful.
There are millions of men in the workplace who are fathers. The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 72.2 million fathers across the nation, with 24.6 million living in married-couple family groups with children younger than age 18.
Two million are single fathers in 2016 living with their children under age 18. In the U.S. in 2016, there were 346,000 male same-sex couples, with 28,000 male couples raising children.
Join us June 12 for our Virtual Happy Hour: “Pride In The Workplace: Why Building LBGTQ Inclusive Culture Is Critical” with guest Natalie Jane Egan, father, CEO and founder of Translator, speaking about fatherhood and work.
Fatherhood reports that there are 214,000 stay-at-home dads with children younger than 15 who have remained out of the labor force for at least one year.
The gap in parental and unpaid care work in the home done by men and women can be easily rectified with a shift in duties of about an hour, Jenny Anderson writes in Quartz. When both mother and father work outside the home, the bulk of responsibilities still fall on the mom.
“If men gave 50 minutes of their time, and women took back 50 of theirs, the world we be a lot closer to equal, says State of the World’s Fathers: Unlocking the Power of Men’s Care, a report published by Promundo and Unilever Dove Men+Care,” Anderson writes.
“According to the most recent reliable data (2012), women spent four hours and eight minutes per day doing unpaid care work (defined as general household tasks such as laundry and cleaning, as well as direct care for household members, including children, older adults, people with disabilities, people with special needs, and others). Men clocked in at two hours and 27 minutes per day. That leaves a gap of one hour and 42 minutes.”
“Far too few men are fully embodying equality at home, at work, and across society,” says the State of the World’s Fathers report. “To achieve the kinds of changes that lead to gender equality, men must step up and the world around them must change so that care work is shared 50/50 between men and women.”
What may also be in the way of equity in addition to cultural attitudes is paid parental leave policies in the workplace. Policies can vary from two weeks to six months leave for a parent, but vary widely according to industry. Fathers getting equal amounts of parental leave has become litigious, leaving workplaces wary of the parent policy gap.
Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase agreed “to pay $5 million to a group of male employees who were discouraged from taking 16 weeks of paid parental leave to care for a new child, according to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the organizations that brought the class action lawsuit on the employees’ behalf. Lawyers believe that about 5,000 fathers were denied extended leave,” according to Vox.
Financial Times reports, “Now some big companies are starting to see equal leave as a recruitment and retention tool. Bank of America, Investec, Diageo and Aviva offer at least four months of fully paid leave to both parents.”
Many parents note that attitudes in the workplace toward growing families can range from welcoming and understanding to ignorant and non-tolerant. This is what leads to many men and women being complicit in the idea of “secret parenting,” or keeping your family life hidden form your work life and colleagues
“If a workplace doesn’t offer paid parental leave, the solution, though possibly difficult to achieve on a political level, is obvious: paid parental leave. The climate issues that lead to secret parenting are more nebulous, and thus seem more difficult to fix. But perhaps the answer is just as clear. Fight the culture that encourages secret parenting by … not parenting secretly. Eventually, your colleagues will adapt,” Emily Oster writes in Atlantic.
“This change cannot come from the lowest rungs of the organization. More senior employees must take the lead. Two kids in, I’m now a tenured full professor. I am on the other side, so to speak. But my kids are still young—4 and 8—and I value seeing them every day for dinner; I do not like to travel much. Not too long ago, I would have explained away my time constraints with other obligations or been vague about them,” writes Oster, a Brown University professor.
The good news is that with a change in demographics in the workforce, attitudes on fatherhood and work may also be shifting with more fathers reporting how fatherhood has a positive impact on themselves and their children.
According to Medical Express, researchers from Ball State, The Ohio State and Columbia Universities report children “feel closer to their fathers and report better communication with their dads if their fathers took paternity leave, and especially if their fathers took two or more weeks of leave.”
The report on more than 1300 families shows, “We also find that the positive relationship between paternity leave and father-child relationship quality may be due to accumulating advantages that may result from fathers’ leave-taking. These include fathers being more involved in children’s lives, more likely to identify as a good father, and better relationship quality with the mother.”
Even with all the positive outcomes reported for equal parenting responsibilities, the motherhood penalty is real and fathers are not treated equally in the workplace.
The Pew Research Center reports 48 percent “of working dads said they would prefer to be home with their children, but simply couldn’t do so because of the financial repercussions. Furthermore, even as more women have become primary breadwinners in their households, men are still largely seen as the less-equipped parent.”
But there are organizations that value the role of fathers in the workplace, perhaps even more than the roles of mothers.
According to Business Insider, “a study out of Cornellfound that, while employers tend to discriminate against mothers, fatherhood actually provides a boost in opinion from employers. Male job candidates whose résumés mentioned the parent-teacher association were called back more often than men whose résumés didn’t, while women who alluded to parenthood in this way were half as likely to get called back than women who didn’t.”
Father’s Day is one day of the year to salute all dads with the wish that equity for all parents will eventually arrive every day.