Essay about Paternity Leave

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The world has never witnessed a faster increase in the number of paternity leave recently. The term “paternity leave” is the period of time offered legally for men to take a temporary break from work to take care of their newborn babies. According to research from OECD countries (2016), the paternity leave recipient rate among countries where data are available is over 50% (1). In other words, in every 100 childbirth, there are more than 50 individuals claiming that they have used paternity leave. Furthermore, many companies around the globe have presented significant paternity leave policies that help new fathers in balancing their job and childcare. Outstanding in the field is Netflix which offers unlimited parental leave for the first year that the baby is born or adopted (Heather, 2015) (2). It is important to know the impact of paternity leave on families and society in order for governments to apply appropriate policies that satisfy the needs of their citizens. This essay will examine the importance of paternity leave for men and its effect on families, culture, and gender equity in today's world together with evidence to support it.

It has been 50 years since the first establishment of paternity leave. Gary Ackerman – a school teacher, whose daughter was born in 1969, was the first man to raise attention to leaving policies for new fathers. Gary petitioned the Board of Education for an unpaid leave of absence but end up being unapproved because the policy was only applied to women. Later that year, he successfully sued the Board and got the right of either parent to receive unpaid leave for childcare (“Gary Ackerman”, n.d) (3). Since then, many countries around the globe have enacted policies to support paternity leave. According to the figure given by the International Labor Organization (2014), paternity leave had been taken in 79 countries, making up 47% out of 167 countries for which dates are available (4).

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The utmost important aspect that paternity leave affects is undoubtedly family value. It deeply and directly benefits the bonding, relationships, health, and even the development of each family member.

Paternity leave-taking is widely believed to be greatly beneficial for infants by encouraging the father’s engagement (Richard J. Petts, Chris Knoester, and Jane Waldfogel). The research of four OECD countries ¬(Australia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, United States) has illustrated that fathers leaving for 2 or more weeks have a tendency to present more involvement in childcare activities than others. Furthermore, it has also found a strong relationship between the father’s leave, the father’s involvement, and the father-infant bond (OECD library)(3). Meanwhile, Richard J.Petts, Chris Knoester, and Jane Waldfogel have undergone a study in 2019 on 1319 families, largely socioeconomically disadvantaged, which indicated that leave-taking, is positively associated with father-child closeness, and father-child communication(3).

There is evidence to indicate that paternity leave has a positive impact on women’s mental and physical status. According to the World Health Organization, 13% of pregnant women suffer from a mental disorder such as depression. Moreover, the percentages have increased in developing countries, reaching almost 20% for after-birth depression. There was also a 14 percent decrease in hospitalizations or visits to a specialist(4)(Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater). Furthermore, the study showed that the effects on health are greater for mothers with a pre-birth medical history, who may be particularly vulnerable in the first months after giving birth.

Surprisingly, fathers’ parenting in the first few months after birth remarkably improves children’s cognitive development. Among Sid Kouider and his colleagues’ research in 2017 which proved that children’s accumulative consciousness had appeared since infancy(5), Vaheshta Sethna, Emily Perry, and Jill Domoney also pointed out that children taken care of by their fathers during the first 2 years in their lives scored higher on the Mental Development Index (MDI). Therefore, the involvement of fathers in the beginning stages of children’s lives is undeniably necessary for their mental abilities(6).

Another essential role of paternity leave is preserving marital stability. The satisfaction of the parents after the arrival of the first baby usually declines (7) ¬(Zach Brittle, 2015) due to the stress and depression born by the overloaded amount of work and responsibilities, which sometimes leads to divorce. The key to solving the problem lies in the replacement of conventional and counter-conventional arrangements with egalitarian ones (8) (Richard J.Petts, Daniel L. Carlson, and Chris Knoester, 2018). This not only helps the parents to achieve work-life balance but also builds a close bonding within the families which helps to stabilize the marital status.

It is undeniable that gender equity is not facilitated, even in families or in the labor market, unless paternity leave for fathers is promoted.

According to Eurofound in 2015, women still spend more time on care and housework than men under the same workplace conditions: while full-time working women spend approximately 19 hours per week, the figure for full-time working men is only about 10 hours(9). So the use of paternity leave enables fathers to learn how to co-parent with their partners and set parenting expectations. Furthermore, dividing domestic tasks in a convenient way for both parents can reduce the mothers’ participation in parental tasks, which affects the quality of at home and leads to an improvement in work-life balance(10) (COWI 2008; ILO 2014).

The uptake of leave by fathers also narrows the gender gap in the workplace. ‘Child penalty, a term used to describe the women’s tendency of returning to part-time jobs, which are lower paid and offer fewer opportunities after they have babies, occurs regularly(11) (Thévenon & Solaz 2013). An increase in fathers’ leave for parental tasks can reduce the ‘child penalty’ by allowing mothers to return to full-time jobs and greatly contributes to equalizing the effect of the child penalty between parents.

“Women should be more concerned about their family than about their career”, this attitude toward gender roles has been transmitted through generations. The image of a stereotypical housewife can now be changed thanks to the policies of paternity leave. As fathers are taking care of the child and do household chores more frequently on their leave, the gender role model will be more flexible. Women nowadays can balance the amount of time they spend with family and their careers better and do not have to sacrifice their societal role like before. According to a discussion paper from Ulrike Unterhofer and Katharina Wrohlich (2017), the effect of paternity leave policies in many countries shows a potential side in changing the attitude toward the gender role in the family (5).

In conclusion, paternity leave is a vital policy for men because of its wide effect on many perspectives in life. Bringing out the utmost value of families, balancing gender equity, and changing the stereotype of gender roles are some of the influences of paternity leave on society. The right to have paternity leave must be taken into consideration in every county due to its importance and impact on society and families as a whole.

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Essay about Paternity Leave. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-paternity-leave/
“Essay about Paternity Leave.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-paternity-leave/
Essay about Paternity Leave. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-paternity-leave/> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Essay about Paternity Leave [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-paternity-leave/
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