Maternity is known to be both a challenging and joyful condition for, perhaps, the majority of women. Governments worldwide commonly support young mothers by providing them with paid vacations, or maternity leave from work. Though in the United States it is not paid, in a number of countries such as Australia or the Czech Republic, mothers receive payments in the amount of 100% of their wages. At the same time, women after childbirth require as much attention as newborns, and this is when men are most needed. Young fathers would also like to have free time to dedicate to their families and especially children. However, typically, governments provide men with a short paternity leave or none at all. This is a drawback of national healthcare policies that should be eliminated.
Unlike maternity leave, paid vacations provided for young fathers are dramatically shorter. For example, in Saudi Arabia, fathers are allowed to take only one paid day off; in Kenya, this term is two weeks, and in Iceland, three months (CNN). In the United States, fathers can take such a leave, but they will be deprived of being paid their wages during this period.
This is rather unfair, since it is valuable and beneficial for families that men have an opportunity to take a vacation at crucial times without having to worry about losing their job. It is stated that divorces in families where men could take a paternity leave occurred seldom compared to families where men continued to work even after a child was born (Adecco). Men have more time and opportunities to focus on their wives and children without any thoughts about work in the background, and thus paternity leave is one of the factors that help to develop and maintain long-lasting family relationships.
According to data gathered after studies conducted in Australia, Great Britain, United States, and Denmark, fathers who choose to take a paternity leave from work immediately after a child is born tend to engage into child-caring activities more regularly, and their children display better cognitive development and school readiness in their early years (The Age National). “Father’s leave is linked to more involvement in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat, changing nappies, getting up in the night, bathing and reading to a child, compared to fathers who took no leave. There was some evidence of children having better cognitive outcomes when fathers were more involved early on in their lives,” says Dr. Jennifer Baxter, the author of the study.
It may seem to be an indirect argument, but paid paternity leaves contribute to economies as well. First of all, it helps women return to their workplaces at a quicker rate; secondly, paternity leave strengthens family relationships and makes people happier—stated succinctly, for companies, happy families mean happy employees. This results in an increase of productivity and loyalty to a company.
Unlike maternity leave, the terms of paid paternity vacations connected to childbirth are shorter; in some countries, such as the United States, young fathers have to take paternity leaves at their own risk, as it is often the case that such vacations will be unpaid; it is no surprise that many employees decide not to take such vacations. At the same time, paternity leaves can lead to numerous positive results. Among them one can distinguish the decrease of divorce rates and a contribution to maintaining balanced family relationships; fathers’ regular involvement in child-caring activities that result into children’s better cognitive development; also, a contribution to economies, as paternity leaves allow women to recover and return to work faster, and make employees happier, and thus more productive and loyal to companies.
Grinberg, Emanuella, and Emily Smith. “Paid Leave Lets Dads Build Parenting Foundation.” CNN. Cable News Network, 16 June 2013. Web. 09 Jan. 2014. .
“The True Benefits of Paternity Leave.” Adecco. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2014.
Miletic, Daniella. “Paternity Leave Delivers Dad a Hands-on Benefit—and a Surprise.” The Age National. N.p., 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 09 Jan. 2014.