With a new baby comes new territory, including feeding, burping, changing and cuddling. Typically when a family welcomes their new child, the mother will take an extended -or permanent- leave from work and serve as the primary caretaker. However, in our modern society of two-income households and highly competitive workplaces, fathers are beginning to stay home as often as mothers. Yet businesses have not seemed to adapt as quickly as domestic customs have, and only 14% of U.S. companies offer paid paternity leave. Josh Levs, journalist, father of 3, and author of All In: How our work-first culture fails dads, families, and businesses – and how we can fix it together, provides his opinion and expertise on the subject. He comments, “Once the baby is out of the womb, men are just as capable as women are of doing the things that are needed to take care of a child. It’s really important to make sure that families have choices.” As a new father, Levs recognized how his employer’s policy did not allow him to take paternity leave, and he shares how he worked to reform this policy to allow all employees the chance to have paid leave.
Under United States federal law, all employees have the right to unpaid leave. However, families who require the financial security that two incomes provide must find a way to continue receiving their salary. Levs suggests a solution for this called the The Family Act, which would provide paid leave through the government instead of through companies. All employees would pay 20 cents of every $100 they make into a large fund, and then would be eligible to receive money from this fund should they need to take a leave from work. Based on the success of current programs in New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island, this would pay employees up to ⅔ of their salary while on leave, for up to 12 weeks, and would take the strain off of small businesses. Businesses and corporations also have the option to pay their own employees themselves, and will reap the benefits of keeping on their top employees. Levs concludes with a description of why he believes that paternity leave is an issue worth discussing. He says, “In this country we need policies that will allow families to make choices about whether the mom will go back to work or the guy will go back to work… Employees should be able to take time off to care for a loved one, and get paid for all or part of it.”
- Josh Levs, journalist, father of 3, author of the book, All In: How our work-first culture fails dads, families, and businesses – and how we can fix it together.