Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pat Leave: It's Good for Everyone

With changing times means some men are embracing fatherhood in a more unique way. It's easy to simply impregnate a woman and then let her be with your baby while you focus on career and moving up the ladder. However, it's more than your sperm that is needed for fatherhood. Time, dedication, love, and hard work are required as well. I commend Facebook's change in policy to extend parental leave to four months, following Mark Zuckerburg's announcement that he would take two months off after his wife Priscilla Chan gives birth to their daughter. "I am proud to announce today that we are extending our parental leave policy for full time employees to cover four months of paid baby leave for all new parents, no matter their gender or where in the world they live," Lori Matloff Goler, Facebook's head of HR, wrote on the social media site (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/30/facebook-parental-leave_n_8683198.html). The policy, which will take affect on Jan. 1, 2016 will also extend to staff who adopted a baby in 2015. "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," continued Matloff Goler. "For too long, paid baby leave has been granted only to a mother who is giving birth. We believe that fathers and mothers alike deserve the same level of support when they are starting and growing a family, regardless of how they define family." My cousin Steve went on pat leave for a little while to help his wife out with at least two of their three children. He was happy to take time to support her and spend more time with his young family. Since he was able to get some paid time off to help out, he chose to do so. I would encourage all men to think this over if they have an opportunity to do so. I would also venture to say that by doing so you would be strengthening the bond with your girlfriend or wife. Other tech companies that have extended or introduced maternity and paternity leave policies include Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Netflix, and Spotify. In Canada, men and women are eligible for 35 weeks of paternity leave for a newborn or newly adopted child (http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/ei/types/maternity_parental.shtml#long). It surprises and shocks me that the US is one of five countries, which does not provide parents with paid leave following the birth of their child. Companies with 50 employees or more are obligated to give parents 12 weeks of unpaid "protected job leave." The US may be advanced in many areas, but they are extremely backwards in this respect. Tom Stocky shared his experience of staying home for four months with his daughter and said that overall was a very positive experience. On Facebook, he wrote: "It was nice to have her like me so much, to come to me for comfort when she fell, to come and cuddle with me when she got sleepy, to run toward me screaming with excitement after I'd been away for awhile. I realized that's just because I spent so much time with her, but I didn't care, it felt really good. Maybe it was also because I got better at childcare. It feels nice to be good at something, and I got much better at the work I was doing at home" (https://www.facebook.com/tstocky/posts/996111776858). He added: "When I tell people I'm on a 4-month leave, the initial response is typically surprise that my company offers such a generous benefit. Facebook's paternity leave policy is unusual, but I hope it becomes less so. It's good for gender equality in the workplace and it's good for families with fathers." I agree. We need to encourage parents to make more of an equal effort in raising their children and not punish them if they choose to do so. Furthermore, we need to continue challenging and changing the way society views men who choose to take pat leave. They must be applauded for taking their fatherly responsibilities seriously in comparison to some men who simply split when their significant others get pregnant or those who are such workaholics that they rarely see their families.