The pandemic continues to underscore the need for care infrastructure that supports and uplifts caregivers in this country. On the heels of a challenging year for families, this Father’s Day we must recognize the crucial caregiving role fathers can play and ensure that working dads can access the time they need to support their families and help alleviate America’s care crisis.
Jordan, an expectant father from New York City who works in music management, plans to utilize New York’s Paid Family Leave program when his wife gives birth in July to spend time bonding with their new baby. Being able to take time off work during this critical time without risking job security or income is invaluable for fathers like Jordan. “A family leave program providing job protection and partial wage replacement not only makes sense, but should be a basic federal service that every employee in the US can take advantage of,” he says. This Father’s Day, join us in celebrating working dads and empowering fathers to know their rights in the workplace. Below are six things that fathers and all caregivers should know about their rights in the workplace.
- Paid leave helps fathers bond with their new children in meaningful and formative ways.
For some families, when both parents take leave, this can double the amount of time a child has to receive personal care from a parent. For Jordan from NYC, when his wife returns to work as a high school history teacher following her own parental leave, he will be the baby’s primary caregiver, making access to paid leave especially important for him as a father. “New fathers need to be able to take ample time off just like new mothers, now more than ever,” he says. Fathers who take time off after the birth of a new child have been shown to be more involved in that child’s direct care after birth than fathers who take no leave.
- Taking paid leave as a father breaks down gendered stereotypes about caregiving.
Did you know that men taking paid leave not only improves the personal and economic well-being of their families, but also advances workplace and household gender equality? Research has shown that despite this, men tend to take less leave to care for children and family members, often citing worries about losing pay as the reason why. Stigma about taking paternity leave also plays a role in discouraging male caregivers from taking time off work after the arrival of a new child.
Amir, an early childhood education professional from Brooklyn, has utilized New York’s Paid Family Leave program alongside his wife to take time off work to care for their son with special needs. “It’s no longer possible to expect that in especially difficult situations, one parent working is a sufficient way to address those needs and also raise a healthy family,” says Amir. “We are well past the antiquated and stereotypical notion of caregiving being a ‘woman’s job.’ Caregiving is demanding and exhausting, and having paid job protection through NYPFL has been critical to the ongoing and future success of my family.” By exercising their rights to paid leave, fathers like Amir help break down reductive gender stereotypes about caregiving that harm all working families.
- Nine states have already passed paid leave programs.
Do you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., or Washington State? These nine states (and D.C.) have passed into law programs providing pay to workers taking time off to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, or recover from one’s own serious health condition, with many of these policies currently in effect already. See here for more information about your rights under paid family and medical leave laws around the country currently.
- Great strides have been made towards passing paid leave for all at the federal level.
President Biden recently announced a proposal as part of the American Families Plan that would guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one or one’s own serious illness, deal with a loved one’s military deployment and more. This historic proposal represents a key step forward in recognizing the need for paid leave on a federal level, and we applaud President Biden for committing to investing in our country’s precious care infrastructure.
- Paid leave policies with inclusive family definitions have seen unprecedented support recently.
As part of President Biden’s paid leave proposal, the White House has indicated its support for using an inclusive family definition that would allow workers to take leave to care for all of their closest loved ones, regardless of biological or legal relationship. That means that under this plan, workers would be able to care for their chosen family members in times of need. We’ve long championed the use of inclusive family definitions, and these promising steps towards implementing policies that work for all families will help us continue to work towards a future where all caregivers can be there for their loved ones when they need it.
- Fathers have other rights in the workplace.
Besides paid leave, fathers have other rights in the workplace to help them care for themselves and their loved ones in some states. Visit ABB’s Workplace Rights Hub to learn more about caregiver discrimination, against which protections exist in many states and localities, and protections for fathers experiencing sex discrimination, which can take the form of retaliation at work against fathers playing a caregiving role in their families. Fathers may also need paid sick days to care for themselves, their children, and other loved ones when they are ill; find out which states and localities provide paid sick time here.