4 Tips for Accommodating Paternity Leave

February 19, 2020 | 896 views

4 Tips for Accommodating Paternity Leave
4 Tips for Accommodating Paternity Leave

It’s no secret that the United States is far behind dozens of western countries in offering paid paternity leave. Currently, a handful of states mandate paid leave for fathers of newborns or newly adopted children. This can be tough on businesses to provide. Under 20% of companies offer the benefit voluntarily, and the cost and uncertainty are daunting for small companies.

Where paid paternity leave is not required, many companies do offer time for new dads to kick off this new phase in life at home with their child. Unfortunately, for most, it is still unpaid. No matter how your state and company approach this more common benefit, scheduling leave and accommodating employees’ needs comes with some common-sense planning.

A recent study from Boston College found that most workplaces now have favorable cultures for paternity leave, even if workers are concerned about missing work advancement opportunities while they are gone. Regardless, more and more new parents are taking advantage of this benefit, and organizations might note these tips for accommodating paternity leave.

1. Plan Ahead. The baby might be a surprise, but the whole office usually knows when a baby is on the way. Sit down and discuss with your employee what his expectations and plans are for working and taking leave. Schedule the dates for all to see. Many men never take more than a few days, but knowing what to expect is a good start for any employer-employee relationship. You have nine months! Have the conversation early. That way there are no surprises about leave time, paid leave options, and work responsibilities.

2. Spread the Work. For everyone’s benefit, ask the employee to submit a plan to cover all aspects of his job while he is gone. The sooner this is in place, the more amenable employees and managers can be to the change. As with FMLA situations, people are usually quite willing to assist the father-to-be and learn new skills in his absence. And if things seem under control, a worker is more likely to actually make good use of the leave time rather than answering calls and emails from home.

3. Show People You Value Them. We generally respect and value parents who are involved with their families and children. As a team leader, this is an opportunity to demonstrate an organization’s commitment to an important role and (dare I say it?) the important job of a father. Even if your company does not or cannot afford to pay employees for leave, it should not be difficult to express how much that parental role matters to the employee and to the community beyond a new baby’s nursery.

4. Sing in Tune. No, not lullabies necessarily, but as you strive to appreciate the importance of paternity leave for families and employee happiness, then follow your own words and lyrics; if you have a child joining your household, take your own leave too. Work from home sometimes, or organize phone meetings so you can also be home parenting if needed. Not only will you be glad you did, but every employee will also notice. Actions truly do speak louder than words.

Paternity leave is not a vacation. Ask any parent who has survived the unintelligible cries, wet cribs, and overflowing diaper pails. Nearly all new dads participate fully in these activities and assist with laundry, shopping, and other activities to transition a household with a new child. Let’s become the father our child imagines us to be by proactively encouraging our employees to spend precious time with their new addition to the family.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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