- Women receive almost twice as much paid parental leave after the birth of a child as men, according to new research from SHRM, but without more employer support for new dads, does that discrepancy really matter in the long run?
SHRM's Paid Leave in the Workplace Survey found that women, on average, were given 41 days of paid maternity leave compared with 22 days of paid paternity leave for men. This is in addition to other forms of paid leave that might be available to new parents, SHRM notes.
The SHRM survey also examined paid leave plans, finding that the majority of employers used employee tenure as the basis for leave offered in paid-time-off (PTO, a combination of vacation, sick and personal leave) plans and vacation plans. For example, an employee with two years on the job received an average of 15 days in a PTO plan and 11 days each in paid vacation and paid sick plans.
Large employers today are trying to get ahead of the curve by increasing paid time off, since paid leave legislative measures are being debated but going nowhere fast. The reported imbalance in parental leave surfaced by SHRM's survey signals that employers still expect mothers to take on the majority of care for a new child, and the inequity in paid-time-off days may discourage fathers from taking a similar amount of time off to care for a new baby.
Interestingly, while new fathers say they want more parental leave, other research shows they may be very reluctant to use what they already have. So while the SHRM survey does uncover a disparity, the reality of maternal vs. paternal leave imbalance may be moot if new dads feel that they can't really take advantage of that benefit without stress in the first place.