Employee Wellness Blog

Parental Leave Policy: Why Dads Need Time Off Too

Posted by Seraine Page on Mon, Jul 29, 2019

Want to help new dads in your office adjust parenthood?adorable-baby

Give them time off to spend with their other half and newborn.

More states are adopting laws that requires employers to offer paid time off for new parents. The Oregon legislature recently passed a Paid Family and Medical Leave Law that requires employers to allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off, including after the birth of a child.

It’s good business, too, as it benefits employees in big ways.

Studies show new moms recover more quickly from delivery and transition easier into motherhood when the father is on leave, too. Additionally, a new dad’s well-being and the couple’s relationship improves as a result of the early bonding time together.

Interested in setting up a solid parental leave policy, especially for fathers?

Here’s a look at how and why to let employees take advantage of this benefit that helpsthe entire family.

Why Parental Leave Policies Matter

Paternity leave benefits the whole family, which in turn makes your employee happier upon their return to work. The first few weeks with a newborn can be tough, and if you have fathers working hard during that time frame, they are unlikely to be as productive.

The first few months at home and healing are known as the Fourth Trimester. Aside from learning how to handle a newborn baby’s every need, it’s a time of adjustment for mom, baby, and dad.

During this period of time, the mother has a lot of physical healing and emotional adjustments. This includes navigating the changes with significant sleep deprivation.

Throughout the healing process, it’s paramount to have partner support.

Studies show that a mother's health can deteriorate if she doesn't have that immediate support after birth. If a mother isn’t mentally and physically healthy, it presents challenges for her to care for her newborn baby properly. This includes the risk of postpartum depression, which can take years to recover from if left untreated. By giving dads time off now, it can reduce the risk of excessive time off later due to mental health declines in new mothers left without support.

Allowing dads to take time off can alleviate stress at home that comes with the adjustment period post birth or adoption. Giving them those precious few months off can allow them to focus and transition better when they do come back to work.

The Benefits of Paternal Leave for All

For employers, preparing ahead of time for your employee’s temporary departure can ease the stress on the parent-to-be as well as support staff. While it takes some leg work to shift responsibilities, it's well worth it to prepare your other staff for a seamless transition of any additional work duties.

As for the economic impact?

One of the key findings in a California study found that after updating the state's Paid Family Leave Act — which included parental leave time — employers reported the leave time either had a positive effect or no noticeable effect on productivity.

Plus, under the federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), most employers are required to give parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the adoption or the birth of a child.

When the new dad comes back from leave, he’ll be in a better frame of mind to do quality work. Here’s a look at how paternal leave in particular benefits the whole family:

For Mom

After bringing a newborn home from a physically exhausting event, it's important for mothers to have a good support system in place. For many, that means having the baby’s father around to care for the little one while the mother heals from delivery.

Why the support matters:

  • Strengthens relationships - Parents bond together over the baby.
  • Lower depression rates - Moms who had help days after birth have a lower postpartum depression risk three months after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is easier - A National Academy of Sciences study found that having a partner at home can support breast milk production and letdown.
  • Fewer drugs prescribed - One study found fewer anti-anxiety drug prescriptions were given to mothers who had extra help from fathers.
  • Flexibility is important - Some days are more difficult than others with a new baby, which are the days the partner is most needed at home.

For Dad

Dads who take an active role in the baby’s care during the first few months tend to be more active as fathers.The time invested in the early days of postpartum baby bonding benefit men in numerous ways.

How it helps dads in particular:

  • Fewer health issues - Men are healthier and happier when caring for young children.
  • Relationship builder -Listening out for baby cries can create new neurological pathways that help men have stronger relationships in the future.
  • Creates balance - Dads who have paternity leave opportunities can figure out a better work-life balance which leads to overall well-being.
  • Fosters a healthy father-child relationship - Dads who took two weeks off with their new babies tend to be more involved in their child's life later on.

For Baby

While a single parent can certainly take care of a baby, it's helpful for both parents to take on caring roles in a newborn’s life.

Newborns need to be held and cradled often during the first six months to develop a healthy confidence level later in life. Extra hands around means extra cuddles for babies.

Babies also require healthy role models with strong relationships to give them optimum care during those early days. That includes meeting basic financial needs. For dual-income households, it's important that each parent has a supportive job that allows time off while also maintaining a positive financial situation.

Create a Customized Paternal Leave Policy

Just like moms, dads deserve time off with baby, too.

Companies can help new parents in those early days by respecting and promoting paternal leave to be as important as maternal leave. Dads should truly be off when on paternity leave, and not “working from home” during this sensitive time of family growth.

In the workplace, flexible policies are best — scheduled and unscheduled time off are both important for new parents, especially for scheduling baby well visits and unexpected sick days.

Everyone benefits from dad being home and taking an active parenting role with the new baby, and that includes employers who honor parental leave policies.

Want to learn more about how flexible schedules can improve job satisfaction? Read our post, Can Flexible Schedules Really Improve Employee Wellbeing? to find out!

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