Does Parental Leave Policies in Different Countries Effectively Retain Newly-Being-Parenthood Workers?
both parents have an entitlement to an equal amount of leave); or (ii) an individual right that can be transferred to the other parent; or (iii) a family right that parents can divide between themselves as they choose. In some countries, Parental leave consists only of nontransferable individual entitlements; in other countries, it is an entirely family right; while in other countries, part of Parental leave is an individual right, the remainder a family right. It is generally understood to be a care measure, intended to give both parents an equal opportunity to spend time caring for a young child; it usually can only be taken after the end of Maternity leave.
For two-dad families, and the increasing number of fathers who are serving as stay at home parents, addressing this unequal access and uptake is particularly important. Workers often face tension in balancing their roles as workers and parents, since there can be adverse consequences to prioritizing family over work or work over family. Empowering more dads with paid parental leave means they can achieve their professional goals and be supportive, nurturing fathers and partners.
Even the most generous of U.S. laws guarantee leave for a relatively short period (typically, less than 3 months), and the limited previous research does not conclusively indicate how such legislation has influenced the leave-taking of either mothers or fathers. Understanding how parental leave legislation affects employment and leave-taking is of more than academic interest. Parental (particularly maternity) leave has been viewed as an important mechanism for improving the job continuity of mothers – who would otherwise often be forced to terminate jobs in order to spend time with young children – and reducing the “family gap” in women’s wages. The estimated associations are small in absolute but large in relative terms – a parental leave law is predicted to increase the percentage of the birth month employed fathers spend on leave from 7 to 11 percent, representing approximately two extra days off work. Since only around half of men are covered and eligible under the FMLA, the increase associated with actually gaining leave rights would be approximately twice as large. As for women, we do not know the impact of this increased leave-taking for the well-being of fathers or their children. This certainly merits further research.
The United States is one of only two countries to offer no paid parental leave. Australia also offers no paid leave, but supports new parents with a substantial financial “baby bonus” regardless of whether they take parental leave.
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