Should men get paternity leave from work?

Paternity or Parental leave, also known as family leave, is an employment benefit where the parents are allowed a break from work after a newborn or new adoption. The leave has in many countries being given to mothers, with the men, in any case, being either denied the leave or being required to take a short leave. The question remains whether it should remain so or there is a need for equality in terms of different characteristics of parental leave, such as the period as well as benefits such as payments during the leaves.

There are social activists, experts, and scholars who argue that mothers are mainly the primary caregivers of the children and, therefore, should be allowed to take parental leave alone and not the fathers. The definition of maternity leave indicates that the period is mainly meant for taking care of the child as well as celebrating the new members of the family. Since both the mother and the father have a role to play in taking care of the child, both should be given a break after a newborn or an adoption.

Harrington et al. (2014) define parental leave as paid or unpaid leave time allowed to both biological mother and mother after the birth of a newborn. The definition can be extended to mean the leave taken by non-biological parents for the case of custody and adoption. The term mainly includes three terms, namely maternal leave, which is the leave time of the mother, paternal leave for the fathers, and the adoption leave for the case of custody and adoption. Eurofound (2015) discusses the essence of parental leave and note that the main aim is to allow the parents to celebrate the new members of the family and take care of them.

The law stipulates the minimum eligibility requirements and not that the employer should hold the jobs of such persons as they take the leave. The leave time is aimed at giving the parents some time to deliberate on some issues relating to the newborn, the new functioning of the family, and the welfare of the new members of the family. Parental care to the child, as noted by law and the common social norms, is the responsibility of both the father and the mother.

Both parents have a role to play in taking care of the child as well as in deciding on the course and welfare of the newborn. The key aim of parental leave is to ensure that both the mother and the father have adequate time off from the workplace to interact with the new member and together decide on the care and welfare of the child.

Definition: Parental Leave

The definition of parental leave and its aims indicates that both the mother and the father have a right to parental leave. Gielow (2001) notes that parental leave is an issue of workplace equality. Denying fathers paternal leave can be seen as discrimination in the workplace, given that both the mother and the father have roles in taking care of the new member of the family. The parental leave policies that promote equality, diversity, and seeks to strike a balance between work and family should, therefore, promote equality in parental leave in terms of the period and the benefits that come with parental leave.

Eurofound (2015) note that paternal leave is necessary for increasing bonding and engagement between the fathers and their children. Further, paternal leaves are essential in lowering the notion of the fathers as the breadwinners and, therefore, critical in promoting equal pay among all workers regardless of their gender.

Mun and Brinton (2015) note that the roles of the traditional families have changed, and therefore there is a need to change policies and laws to take care of the new changes in the social systems. The birth of a newborn comes with stretched finances, which is a concern for both the mother and the father of the child. More and more women are becoming breadwinners in society, with the fathers taking the role of the caregivers.

The fundamental shifts have seen the care of the children and the financing of the families being shared almost equally in the families as opposed to the traditional families where the mother was more of a caregiver and the father a provider. This progress and societal change indicate that there is a need to have both the mother and the father take equal breaks to plan how to handle the new situation after the new member of the family arrived.

The parental leaves policies should be made more flexible, gender-neutral, and counteract possible cases of unconscious bias. Both the parents should be accorded parental leaves in a manner that make both parents feel supported irrespective of their gender and in a manner that promotes careers growth and nurture success in families. Harrington et al. (2014) support paternal leaves for men by arguing that it is key to reducing work-family conflicts. 

Hixson (2016) offers a different definition of parental leave, a definition that opposes paternal leave for men. Hixson (2016) argues that the maternity leave is to all women recover from pain endured from the childbirth and regain energy and the argument of “spending some time with the kids” is, therefore, a weak argument. In this view, therefore, only women should be accorded maternity leave, and therefore paternal leave is unnecessary. Therefore, maternity leave is meant for regaining physical health and not for hanging out with the new soul. In this argument, therefore, the fathers have to pain or physical challenges to regain form and should not have paternal leaves.

Paternal leave has been a controversial topic in society, with some arguing that men should be allowed to take some leave time from the workplace after a newborn or adoption with some opposed to paternal leave. With the changing social setting with taking care of children and management of finances being equally shared in families, paternal leave is essential. Those opposed to paternal leave argue that the time is for physical recovery and, therefore, unnecessary for men.

However, the definition of parental leave notes that the time is meant for the parents to celebrate the newborn, take time to interact with them, plan for their welfare and take care of them, and therefore men should be allowed paternal leave since this is a shared role. 

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