- Same-sex male couples are getting shorted on paid parental leave as compared to same-sex female couples and opposite-sex couples, according to a study published in Cambridge University's Journal of Social Policy.
- Of the 33 countries currently offering national paid parental leave (the United States is not among them), same-sex female couples received the same amount of paid leave as opposite-sex couples in 19 of them, while same-sex male couples received equal amounts of leave in only four, the study said.
- "[A]ssumptions often undervalue the importance of fathers' involvement," said study leader Elizabeth Wong, quoted in a press release. "When they do, same-sex male couples and male partners of mothers are the most disadvantaged." Wong noted that researchers didn't find any legislation explicitly prohibiting same-sex couples from receiving paid parental leave, but "the way policies are structured or worded can nevertheless stop them from claiming benefits."
Six months of parental leave has been shown to have positive effects for children's health and development, according to research cited by Steven Rice of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation recently reduced its 52-week policy to 26 weeks because full-year leaves proved to be more disruptive than anticipated. Many other organizations have implemented policies designed to help out new parents. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for example, now allows new parents to take up to six months of paid family leave.
Still, fewer than half (40%) of employers offer paid parental leave for birth and non-birth parents, according to a 2018 Mercer study. Additionally, at least one employer ran into costly legal trouble after questioning primary caregivers' status because of their gender, highlighting the dangers (as Wong noted) of making assumptions about family structures and gender roles.
Employees of all ages and genders can find themselves juggling work and caregiving responsibilities. Even after children are grown, aging parents often need extra help. More than 80% of employees report that caretaking responsibilities have affected their productivity, according to Harvard Business School research.
Although the United States doesn't mandate paid parental leave at the federal level, employers who provide this benefit may be able to better attract and retain talent. Work flexibility for new dads has been shown to benefit moms and dads alike while, conversely, inflexibility often drives moms out of the workforce altogether.