It's customary for expecting mothers to plan for a 6 to 12-week leave after the birth of their children. But did you know that leave is also available to fathers?
Paternity leave isn't discussed as much as maternity leave. However, as a father, if you're expecting a child or adopting a child with your wife or partner, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the arrival of your new addition.
Understandably, 12 weeks of unpaid leave isn’t financially doable for most families. But if it's within your means, it's certainly worth consideration.
A 2013 study found that “fathers who took two or more weeks of leave upon a child's birth were more likely to be involved in the direct care of their children beyond leave.”
Given that only 11.4% of workplaces in the United States provide paid leave for its employees, according to the Department of Labor Statistics, taking time off from work isn't a reality for most families.
Rather than immediately push the idea aside, work with your employer to see if you can come to reasonable terms.
Here are a few tips to help you negotiate paternity leave.
#1. Do Bring up The Topic Early
Don't wait until a few weeks before the birth of your child to ask your employer about paternity leave. If this type of leave isn’t customary at your workplace, it might be a foreign concept to your employer. Therefore, the company may need time to plan for your absence. The more time you give, the more cooperative they’ll be.
#2. Do Work Until the Last Minute
With regard to paternity (and maternity leave), some employees start their leave a few days before the arrival of their child, or on the scheduled due date. However, to maximise the time you have at home with your child, do not start your leave until the arrival of your child.
#3. Do Make Yourself Available
Understandably, this is your time to bond with your child and help your partner at home, but if you have a lot of responsibilities at work, it’s only reasonable to make yourself available. The person handling your duties at work may have questions, and your absence may slowdown productivity in the office.
Let your superior know that you’re available to answer questions. Even if you can't always answer the phone as soon as it rings, you can respond to messages via text or email, or return calls. Your willingness to remain available will make it easier for you (and other males in the office) to take future paternity leaves.
#4. Do ask for Partial pay
Unfortunately, your employer is not required to offer paid leave, although they are required to keep your position, benefits and salary. However, if you're making yourself available during your time off, talk to your boss about partial pay. There are no guarantees, but some pay is better than none.
#5. Do be Reasonable With Regards to Time off
Although the Family and Medical Leave Act says you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, it's important that you're reasonable with your request. Even if you're financially able to take three months off from work, consider how this decision will affect your employer. If few people are able to cover your workload, a 12-week leave might significantly reduce productivity, and you'll have to play catch up upon your return to the office. Depending on the nature of your job, you might only take a two or three-week leave.
Do you think it’s reasonable for fathers to request paternity leave after the arrival of a new child? Comments please.
Image Credit: Telegraph