Paternity Leave Benefits: How They Can Help Families

Offering paternity leave benefits, including time off, paid time off and other perks, can have great value for both families and employers.

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picture of father and baby enjoying the benefits of paternity leave together in front of a computer

Paternity leave is one benefit that has effects far beyond just the new fathers who take it. Many employers extend family and medical leave policy to include paid paternity leave benefits and find that fathers, children, and mothers do better.

If you’re a working father and your employer provides paid paternal leave. Read on to discover some of the professional and personal reasons to take advantage of the benefit. If you’re an employer, this article will describe some paternal leave benefits to include in your paid leave program. We’ll also review some of the personal importance that paid family leave has for new fathers.

Paid paternity leave benefits

The official paternity leave benefits that fathers receive may include time off and paid wages. Sometimes these are stipulated by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or by state laws. Even when they aren’t stipulated, it’s still of great value to offer new fathers these paid paternal leave benefits.

Time off for new fathers

The most basic paternal leave benefit is being granted time off. The FMLA requires that employers allow fathers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a new child. (The act applies to businesses with more than 50 employees.)

But many businesses go beyond the FMLA’s minimum requirement, offering longer paid paternity leave. Even businesses too small to be subject to the FMLA leave requirement are increasingly offering some form of family leave. Often, that meets or exceeds the FMLA’s 12 unpaid weeks.

Paid wages during time off

Receiving paid time off is especially important for fathers. Most men take some time off around their child’s birth. But that time is usually abbreviated unless compensation can be provided. In one study, 7 of 10 new fathers report taking 2 weeks or less off from work after the birth or adoption of a new child. (New birth mothers or adoptive mothers, however, average about 11 weeks.) Almost two-thirds of those new dads report that they wish they’d had more time.

These statistics show that getting men to take more time off around the birth or adoption of a child requires a longer paid leave period. Fathers want to spend more time with their children but are well aware of the need to provide financial support.

Some states have passed paternal leave laws to this effect, generally requiring 70-90% of average weekly wages be paid. Some businesses are offering similar compensated leave even when not under any statutory paid paternity leave obligations.

Extended value of paid paternity leave

When employers offer paid paternal leave, the time that fathers are able to take off has multiple personal benefits. The benefits aren’t just for the fathers, but they extend to their child, their partner, and even their employer.

Establish a parental role

Men better establish themselves in a parental role when they’re able to provide childcare early on. They take on more responsibilities when given that time, and those habits carry on throughout much of the child’s upbringing. Men become accustomed to caring for their children. (Changing more dirty diapers at 3 weeks translates to helping with math homework more at 13 years.) All of this strengthens family life by encouraging a more equal distribution of family-building tasks.

One Ph.D. studied chemical changes in men’s brains. He noted: “Fathers who have the opportunity to do more will adapt themselves better to parenthood.” So paternity leave can actually be considered a type of paternal bonding leave. Advocates say that studies like this show that paid paternal leave, as part of a family leave policy, is critical.

Better bond with their child

Perhaps the most important direct benefit is the bond that fathers develop with their child. Spending time together helps father and child connect. This is true whether a partner is giving birth or the child is coming from foster care or by adoption.

Strong parent-child bonding has multiple health benefits for children. Studies show that children who bond with their parents experience better mental health and have higher cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioral skills. In other words, children who connect with their parents are better prepared to navigate life.

Shared caregiving responsibilities

When men are home, they’re able to share caregiving and household responsibilities more equally with their partner. Fathers become a highly involved secondary caregiver, helping with almost any aspect of raising a newborn child. They also can take on more family duties.

Sharing responsibilities helps couples connect, as they’re visibly taking on the challenge of caregiving together. They’re dividing household tasks and developing a new work culture in their home. For mothers who experience maternal postpartum depression, the assistance of the new father can help ease this difficult period.

Support for working mothers

The support at home better enables new mothers in the labor force to continue in their careers. When mothers have help at home, they can use their maternity leave in a way that best allows them to spend time at home and still accomplish work goals. Many new adoptive parents, as well, need both cultural and employer support. Working is essential for some families where both parents are low-wage workers. Even part-time workers benefit from financially stable jobs. And job protection, as well as job security, are all-important. Mothers with well-paying careers also need the freedom to work if they wish to continue to advance professionally.

Greater employee morale

Finally, all of these family benefits return to the employer in the form of greater employee morale. Not only do fathers appreciate the financial benefits of paid paternity leave, but their partners may be more willing to acquiesce when work requires extended hours, extended travel, or other additional sacrifices in the future. A stronger work-life balance and greater relationship stability lead to a stronger employee.

Learn more about paternity leave

If you’d like to learn more about paternity leave and paid family leave programs, including tips on how to return to work following paternal leave, you’ll find more on this and other human resources topics at Workest.

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