How Employers Can Encourage Men to Take Parental Leave

How Employers Can Encourage Men to Take Parental Leave

A recent study has revealed that men who spend more time caring for their babies alone during the first year are less likely to separate from their partners, however, there are still not many new fathers taking on the role of primary carer in the first 12 months. And while relationship problems may not seem like an employer’s concern, other research shows that personal issues can result in poor work performance and absenteeism, indicating that men really should be encouraged to take paternity leave.

The study, published in Social Science Quarterly, looked at more than 13,000 mixed-sex couples and found that new dads who took time off to independently care for their children (rather than just helping out with child care and housework), had more stable long-term relationships.

The study also referenced other research which found that solo-paternal care boosted a father’s happiness, wellbeing and the bond between them and their child; in addition to helping the mother achieve a better work-life balance – all of which resulted in a happier relationship.

Why is this relevant to employers? Well, workers who are happy and not experiencing issues at home are more productive and engaged, absent less often and more likely to drive a boost at the bottom line.

Research by Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, found that in a group of 24,000 employees, 47 per cent admitted to a drop in work performance due to personal challenges, saying it was hard for them to concentrate. More than 16 per cent also reported that their personal issues caused them to be absent from work.

“In a small company, every person has an impact on the bottom line,” said Marie Apke, Chief Operating Officer of Bensinger, DuPont & Associates.

It’s therefore in an employer’s best interest to encourage male employees to take paternity leave, not only as a measure to help improve their happiness and relationships with partners and children, but to achieve other company gains as well.

How can employers encourage male employees to take paternity leave?

Increase awareness of what leave is available:

In Australia, new parents (male or female) are entitled to up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave from the government at $719.35 per week before tax, provided they are the primary carer, earned less than $150,000 the previous financial year, and worked for at least ten months in the 13 months before their child was born or adopted.

Additionally, partners can also receive two weeks of parental leave at the same pay rate; mums and dads (or same-sex partners) can share parental leave by taking turns to be the primary carer in continuous blocks; and up to 24 months of unpaid parental leave may be granted also.

Make it financially beneficial:

Some employers offer paid parental leave, where they top up the government payments to equal an employee’s normal salary. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, this can result in more employees returning to work after taking leave, a boost in staff morale and productivity, reduced recruitment and training costs, and retainment of skilled staff which can improve organisational efficiency long-term.

Be flexible

Allow male employees to take their paternity leave when it best suits them and their partner, to increase the likelihood of them actually taking it.

Lead by example

Make new fathers feel comfortable about taking time off to care for their children by using senior staff members as role models. The more men that take paternity leave in a workplace, particularly those who are higher up, the increase in likelihood of it becoming standard and accepted practice.

Put them at ease

Offer education and training opportunities to address potential concerns employees might have around taking paternity leave – such as pay loss, being overlooked for promotions and reduced respect from supervisors and co-workers. Assure them of their job stability and equal opportunities for growth.

In addition, as more employers encourage and enable men to take paternity leave, it will have the knock-on effect of allowing more women to remain in the workforce.