Gender stereotyping is a common topic today. Plenty of ink’s been poured on topics like the maternal wall, maternal profiling, and the effect of “off-ramping” by women who take time away from their careers to raise children. But it’s not often do we hear about the struggle for a work-life balance faced by men. So, in celebration of Fathers’ Day, here are a few facts and statistics about the challenges faced by the modern stay-at-home dad.
17.4% of children aged 0-4 in the U.S. with an employed mother are cared for full-time by their fathers. As compared to 11% in the U.K.
The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides for unpaid leave to care for a newborn or a newly placed adopted child. The act is gender-neutral and the availability of leave is unrelated to status as “mommy” or “daddy.” But what about employers with less than 50 employees, to which the FMLA does not apply? Well, dads, good luck.
Paternity leave policies, which offer paid leave in varying amounts to fathers of newborns, are uncommon in any size company. And closer to rare in small businesses, which are less likely to be able to afford paid leave than their big business counterparts.
If your employer does not offer paid paternity leave, you may be left with accrued vacation or personal time as the only realistic alternative. And those will likely be very short. Certainly not close to the 12 weeks of maternity leave that many employers offer.
A 2007 study from recruitment firm Adecco USA found that 59% of U.S. working dads would not take unpaid paternity leave if their employer offered it. The most commonly cited reason was cost. Apparently it would put too big a dent in household budget. Other frequently cited reasons included the fear that it would damage their careers, being too busy to take time off, or the concern that they’re too indispensible at work.
Well, there’s always flextime. But given the difficulty women face as they try to get more employers to join the alternative-schedule bandwagon, men may be looking at an uphill battle with this option, too.
No matter whether you’re a dad who stays at home or a dad who stays at work, happy fathers’ day to all of the hard-working dads!