Here’s Why New Dads Say They Don’t Take Advantage of Paid Paternity Leave

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Good news! An increasing number of companies are offering paid paternity leave for new fathers.

This is a really awesome work benefit that allows dads to stay home with a new baby without taking a hit to the wallet — but there’s just one problem.

Many new dads aren’t using it.

Why Some New Fathers Take a Pass on Paid Paternity Leave

Roughly 69% of Americans say fathers need paid paternity leave, so the majority of us clearly support men taking time off work after a family birth or adoption.

Why, then, do mothers take an average of 11 weeks of leave vs one week for fathers?

  • In families where the man is the primary breadwinner, some new fathers can’t afford to use paternity leave if it only covers a portion of their salary for the duration of their absence.
  • “Men are concerned about how they’ll be perceived by their bosses and colleagues if they take time off, so they don’t take leave,” says Chris Duchesne, vice president of Global Workplace Solutions at Care.com.
  • A 2014 study by Boston College revealed that many men feel a “tug of commitment” that makes it hard to break away from work projects and deadlines to take time off with a new baby.

Why Paid Paternity Leave Is Important For You (and Your Employer)

Getting paid to stay home with your newborn is worth its weight in diapers.

Any parent will tell you that those early days of bonding with your baby are one of the most exciting parts of parenting. Those happy memories will also get you through your 5,374th night of colic and sleeplessness without having a complete breakdown.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you — that early bonding time is important for your baby, too.  

“The importance of bonding with the primary caregiver cannot be overestimated,” says Dr. Mary Beth Steinfeld at the UC Davis Medical Center. ”Failure to do so profoundly affects future development and the ability to form healthy relationships as an adult.”

And when new dads take paternity leave, their employers win too.

Bank of America offers 16 weeks of paid leave and an additional 10 weeks of unpaid leave to birth and adoptive parents as part of its benefit package.

The generous arrangement is a win for both new parents and the company, according to Jim Huffman, the bank’s U.S. health and wellness benefits executive.

“I tell everyone who asks that the confidence and the comfort level parents have when they do come back to work is just so strong because they had that time with their child,” he says. “I think paid parental leave is a really great benefit to invest in.”

Convinced yet?

What if I told you that paid parental leave even benefits the economy?

“Economists have found that with paid leave, more people take time off, particularly low-income parents who may have taken no leave or dropped out of the work force after the birth,” reports the New York Times.

That means fathers who are supported with paternity leave return to work after the birth of a baby, continue to fill jobs, earn money and spend money — all things that contribute to a healthy economy.

Where to Find Companies That Support Paid Paternity Leave

The rise in paid paternity leave is a trend we hope continues.

Unfortunately, not all companies offer it as a benefit of employment — yet.

Here are a few that do:

  • Software company Asana gives its new dads 16 weeks of paid leave

Whether you have paid paternity leave or not, a new baby will cost a lot more than you’re expecting. Be prepared with these 12 tips to help you survive parental leave without going broke.

Your turn: Guys, would you take parental leave if it was offered by your company?

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She believes all parents should have equal time off to stay home with a new baby. No one should have to combat colic alone.