Paternity Leave: Why We Need it — and How to Do it Right - Career Transitions
We need paternity leave. And we need more of it. Men, women and children benefit from it. At the same time the societal meaning of paternity leave is very much undermined by governments, employers, and even fathers and mothers around the globe. While the world largely agrees about the advantages of having maternity leave and the principle is applied in law and business, men struggle to find the same recognition for their need to be full time fathers in the first days of welcoming a new child in the family. Paternity leave is usually a lot shorter, and worse paid than maternity leave. What is more, men who take full advantage of their paternity leave often feel more prosecuted, judged and pressured afterwards to go back to the workforce and even compensate for the time they were missing. DO WE NEED PATERNITY LEAVE? The norm of paternity leave could be applied on a national level by the government or on a corporate level by the company. But let us strip for a second that term from all ties to laws and regulations. Let us forget international comparisons and statistics and just ask: Is it beneficial to society? According to one study from 2011, paid parental leave decreases the chance of neonatal and infant mortality rate by 10%, and is associated with a 9% lower rate of mortality in children under 5 years old. The help of the father in the early stages of motherhood provides for the early return of the mother to the workforce and is associated with increased rates of breastfeeding. Taking a break from work in any form is of course beneficial to a man's overall health. One examination of the Swedish Multigenerational Register even indicated fathers, who did take their paternity more