New Dads Not Taking Advantage of Paternity Leave

By Anthony Balderrama

TV commercials might have you believe a new tie, a car, or a case of beer is the best gift you can give dad this Father’s Day. What he might want most is some time off from work, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey.

Like working moms, dads who work outside the home have to find time to be with their families and still fulfill their usual workplace duties. If you’re a working parent, you might want to be at your children’s recital, but you can’t exactly leave in the middle of an important work dinner where you’re about to sign a deal with a client. Either work or your personal life has to suffer to some degree, and it’s not easy to know when one deserves more attention than the other.

The pressure to find the right balance was not eased any with the recent economic downturn that still affects workers today. Many workers are still afraid to lighten their workload when some businesses are still trying to recover. Essentially the life of a working father (and mother) is not easy.

Paternity leave
According to CareerBuilder’s Father’s Day survey, 43 percent of working dads who became fathers in the last three years did not take any paternity leave at all following the birth of their children. Of those who did take some paternity leave, 59 percent only took one week or less.

Perhaps more concerning is that of working fathers who took only some of the paternity leave offered at their companies, 47 percent felt pressured to come back early.

Bringing the office home
According to the survey, 36 percent of working dads bring home work from the office. In 2008 only 27 percent of working dads reported bringing home work.

Staying at home
Thirty-five percent of working dads are willing to stay at home with the children full time if their spouses or partners make enough to support the family. In 2008 the number was slightly higher with 37 percent.

Effects on relationships
Unfortunately work can and often does have a negative effect on families. According to the survey, 22 percent of working fathers say work has negatively affected the relationships they have with their children. Meanwhile 26 percent of working dads say work had a similarly negative impact on relationships with their significant others.

Pay vs. time
If lower salary meant spending more quality time with the family, 33 percent of working dads would accept the tradeoff, down from 37 percent in 2008.

Obviously deciding whether or not to work outside the home isn’t merely a case of wanting to or not. As CareerBuilder’s recent Mother’s Day survey found, 39 percent of working moms and 43 percent of working dads are the sole financial provider for their respective households. Therefore many working parents can’t afford to stay at home.

Also in that survey was a look at pay inequality, which shows that deciding who should stay home in two-income families might not be that difficult of a decision. Women are still earning considerably less than men, on average, and making ends meet could be a struggle on a lower salary:

  • 40 percent of working moms earn less than $35,000, compared with 21 percent of working dads.
  • 59 percent of working dads earn $50,000 or more, compared with 33 percent of working moms.
  • 17 percent of working dads earn $100,000 or more, compared with 6 percent of working moms.

With so many workplaces discouraging fathers from taking time off to be with their newborns, and seeing as working mothers are less likely to earn as much as their male counterparts, it’s clear working parents do not have it easy. This Father’s Day, you might want to get the dad in your life an extra special treat.

This article has been reproduced with permission from CareerBuilder. For more articles, check out The Work Buzz

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