Could paternity leave increase employee engagement?
Unequal parental leave
According to this BBC News article, in Sweden parental leave is mostly shared between maternity and paternity and can be up to 430 days (1.3 years). In the UK, parental leave is usually somewhere between 6 months and one year. In New York leave is often considerably less at between one and four months. In both the UK and New York, parental leave is mostly taken by the mother.
These vast differences in parental leave show only some of the wide and varied views people have towards care in the early years of a child’s life, but the impact of decisions people make in the formative years can heavily influence their family life and their careers.
Balancing family and career
Many women enjoy the early months of time at home with their new baby, but many still carry concern about what awaits them when they come back to work. In addition, as the average age of having children continues to rise, many women are at more critical points in their careers when they choose to have children.
Making parental leave equal
Providing equal parental leave to both parents could see mothers back in the workplace faster and could be beneficial to women who want to balance work and family life. Increasing paternal leave could also bring balance to gender pay gaps in senior level positions. Despite efforts to make pay in top level positions fairer, many men are still the higher wage earners.
Positive impact on the workplace and engagement
Increasing paternity leave is not only beneficial for women who want to stay on their career trajectory, but it also provides benefits to organisations too.
Paternity leave helps fathers to feel they get more options to care for their families when they need it most. Giving them the flexibility to make decisions about the beginning of their child’s life could help to increase their engagement with the organisation.
Such freedom with benefits also makes it easier to attract top talent. People value companies that care for their happiness and wellbeing.
Time spent caring for their children can give people different perspectives on life. Different surroundings and experiences can help us to develop as individuals and could bring further diversity into workplaces. New ways of seeing the world can generate innovative ideas ways of thinking.
Paid paternity leave also helps to reduce employee turnover. When people feel safe to take the time they need without guilt, they are more likely to remain in their role and want to return to work engaged once their paternity is over.
What are your thoughts?
In the past childcare has predominantly been the responsibility of the mother but perspectives may shifting with paternal partners beginning to take a larger role in early childcare.
What do you think? Should parental leave be more equal? What is best for the children and the parents? What is most beneficial to the workplace?
Should we embrace change and encourage more paternal leave?
Share your thoughts here, or on Twitter using the hashtag #PIPaternity!
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