It might surprise readers to hear that when compared with other developed nations, the United States is considered to have some of the worst policies regarding parental leave when a new child is born or adopted. Under the Family Medical Leave Act, job-protected leave is guaranteed for up to 12 weeks, but it is all unpaid unless an employer has their own policy that allows paid time off. This means that for many families, taking time off under the FMLA may not be financially feasible and puts them in the difficult position of deciding whether to stay home a little longer or to hire someone to help with childcare, which can also be expensive for a newborn.
At some companies paid leave policies can differ depending on the situation for the employee. In one recent case that has made the news, an employee of Time Warner has said that his company’s policy unfairly discriminates against biological dads, giving them just two weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child. Other parents, such as biological mothers or either parent when a child is adopted or born via surrogate, are entitled to up to 10 weeks of paid leave under the policy.
The Time Warner employee finally had endured enough when his third child was born, causing him to file a lawsuit to attempt to compel the company to even out their paid leave offerings. More and more men are speaking out about these types of policies as families with two working parents attempt to give each an equal opportunity to spend time with the children and to pursue their careers. Whether or not he will be successful is difficult to say. If the employee can prove that he is being discriminated against based on gender he may have a successful claim, but since men with other types of parental responsibilities are entitled to additional leave that may be a hard argument to win.
Source: New York Times, “Standing Up for the Rights of New Fathers,” Tara Siegel Bernard, Nov. 8, 2013.