Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

More dads looking for family leave

The Oregonian recently featured four new dads who, like many of their peers, are taking time off from work to bond with their newborns.

According to a Columbia University study, those same dads will also tend be more involved later on in their baby’s life, from dressing to nighttime feeding, because of the family leave they took early on.

Those dads also tend to have professional jobs, allowing them to stay afloat during unpaid leave or use paid vacation. In the Seattle P-I, Paul Nyhan notes:

Paid paternity leave is the exception not the rule in the United States, but a United Kingdom research paper makes a case for dads-only leave.

In this country, paid paternity leave barely budged over the last ten years, with 16 percent of men at big companies receiving paid leave after the birth of a child this year, up from 13 percent in 1998, according to the New York-based Families and Work Institute. (The change isn’t statistically significant, according to the group’s report.)

The stories of those dads (and moms) in the Oregonian are heartwarming to read, but they are the exception, not the rule. Only 8 percent of workers nationally have access to paid family leave, and 51 percent of new mothers have no access to paid maternity leave at all.

In Washington State, an estimated 1.3 million Washington workers aren’t even covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides only unpaid time off; another 24,000 were eligible but couldn’t afford to take it.

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