This August, Netflix introduced an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads which allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.
The Netflix announcement explains, the company wants “employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances.
Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed.”
It further states the company will “keep paying employees normally, eliminating the headache of switching to state or disability pay.
Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for them and their family, and then works with their managers for coverage during their absences.”
While Netflix is one of the only companies in this country who offers a full year of paid leave, there are a few other progressive companies who offer paid paternity leave benefits to new dads for varying periods of time in the first year.
Unfortunately, these companies are few and far between.
America is the only developed country in the world which doesn’t mandate some form of paid maternity or paternity leave benefits.
A 2013 study by the International Labor Organization examined the leave policies in 167 countries and found that 47 percent mandated some form of paternity leave.
Are you Entitled To Paternity Leave Benefits?
Talk to your company’s human resources department to see if you are entitled to paternity leave benefits and if there are any exceptions which might apply to you.
Many employers are required by federal law to allow their male and female employees 12 weeks of unpaid family leave after the birth or adoption of a child under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
At the end of your leave, your employer must allow you to return to your job or a similar job with the same:
- Working conditions
You’re eligible if you meet both of the following conditions:
- You work for the federal government, a state or local government, or any company that has 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of your workplace.
- You’ve worked for your employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the previous year (which comes out to 25 hours per week for 50 weeks).
If you are entitled to paternity leave benefits under FMLA, you can use your unpaid leave in any way you want during the first year after your child is born or placed with you. This means you can take it all at once or spread it out over your child’s first year by taking it in blocks or reducing your regular work schedule.
Why You Should Take Your Paternity Leave Benefits?
There are several reasons you should take your paternity leave benefits.
Taking Paternity Leave Will Not Affect Your Career Aspirations
One reason new dads often don’t take paternity leave benefits is because they believe it will affect their career goals, but the truth is many workplaces can be very supportive.
A Boston College paternity leave study found strong correlations between the supportiveness of the workplace culture and immediate supervisor, and the number of weeks that dads took off. On average the greater the support for fathers taking time off after the birth of their children, the more time that dads took off.
The Netflix policy is also an encouraging example paternity leave benefits won’t affect career goals. The announcement explains “continued success hinges on us competing for and keeping the most talented individuals in their field. Experience shows people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home. This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”
Taking Paternity Leave Contributes to the Overall Emotional and Physical Well-being of Mothers
Moms who feel supported in the early stages after birth are less likely to get depressed. Research shows paternity leave was strongly associated with maternal well-being at three months postpartum. The co-parenting habits you and your wife establish in the first few months of your child’s life can continue to help each other feel supported for years to come.
Paternity Leave Can Help You Bond With Your Child
Time spent with your child helps build a precious bond which last a lifetime.
When you take part in the care of your baby—change diapers or rock your child to sleep—it also helps you gain confidence in your new responsibilities as dad.
Paternity Leave Can Encourage Other Dads to do the Same
If you take your paternity leave benefits it can encourage other fathers to do the same.
According to the Boston College study mentioned above, only 13 percent of dads took more than 4 weeks off, while the average amount of time was two weeks after the birth of their child before returning to work.
If more fathers took their entitled leave, it could help set better standards for the United States, a country whose maternity and paternity policies continue to fall behind the rest of the world.