Paternity leave is yet to receive the full recognition it deserves. Employers and the society at large make the assumption that, since fathers are not directly affected by the birth of a child, paternity leave is merely a convenient provision of the law that ought to be overlooked. Only a few employers led by the federal government, offer paternity leave with pay. Many other employers offer paternity leave without pay. The question that arises then is whether employers ought to pay employees on paternity leave. Of course, my response is in the positive. Men, like their female counterparts, need a break to get used with the arrival of the new guest: the baby. Like other leave breaks, paternity leaves deserve to be fully paid (Rutherford 77).
The reasoning for paternity leave lies in the requirement to allow parents to reorganize themselves upon the arrival of a new born. In most cases, the mother is usually fully consumed in the birth process. Mothers go through a demanding nine month pregnancy which culminates in the delivery process. Upon delivery, mothers are naturally exhausted and would need a helping hand. Their spouses come in handy in such instances. The father then needs to keep an eye on both the recovering mother and the newly arrived baby. During this period, the concentration of the fathers is often pretty low in other spheres. Their attention, thoughts and concerns are usually with the family. In management, it is appreciated that a distracted and absent minded employee is more of a liability than an asset. The best solution lies in the management allowing the new father some time off to settle. However, the absence from employment does not do away with the economic needs of the family. The family members still need food to eat, clothes to wear, daily allowances and a roof over their heads. It is, therefore, inconsiderate to deny male employees paid paternity leave. The employer is usually aware that his employee is not engaged in any economic activity during the duration of the paternity leave. It beats logic for employers to entirely freeze the employee’s income for the duration of paternity leave (Gray and Anderson 67).
Further, one should perceive paternity leave from a social point of view. Employees’ productivity cannot be isolated from their social well being. A comfortable and peaceful employee would be able to concentrate in the work environment. He would be able to effectively deliver services at his work place. In appreciation of this fact, employers have created the human resource department that is usually charged with welfare management of their staff. Consequently, staff issues are often solved as soon as possible. Paternity leave also falls under welfare management. The social well being of the employee is usually in doubt upon the arrival of the baby. The adjustments and demands in the family usually cause exhaustion and instability of mind. It would be prudent for employers to allow the employees time off for purposes of settling the family issues in light of the new arrivals. This can only be achievable under an arrangement that does not deprive the employee of his regular income.
Paternity leave pay was designed to address such loopholes. Otherwise, in the absence of paternity leave pay, male employees prefer to multi-task work requirements with the domestic requirements. Consequently, men would usually be non-productive and susceptible to committing errors. The costs of errors and mistakes committed end up being charged on the company or the employer. This double tragedy where the employer incurs financial losses and the employee is regularly fatigued can be addressed in a simple manner. The answer lies in preventing the original mistake through the provision of leave pay (Bagilhole 45).
In addition, employers can enter into arrangements with the employees so as to minimize on the costs spent on leave payment. It is important to note that, ordinarily, any employee is legally entitled to a paid leave for a specified duration of time. For federal workers, the duration is set at thirty days. The employer could formulate a policy in which men who undertake paternity leave would be barred from taking the normal annual leave. This would caution the employer from labour shortfalls and excess expenditure on leave payment (Kamerman and Moss 66).
Further, paid paternity leave should be considered as an affirmative action intended towards addressing the societal notion that discriminates women. Ordinarily, the argument propounded by employers and society at large, is that raising children falls under the charge of women. However, this is an unfortunate societal falsehood that ought to be addressed. The reasoning usually comes up because of the historical societal socialization that people have been exposed to. It is high time the tradition is revoked. Stakeholders affected must change this ancient and archaic tradition and come up with equal and sensible policies that can be passed down to future generations. Employers as stakeholders must change their perception of paternity leave. Men must be allowed to play a role in bringing up the child. The roles men play today, as opposed to the roles of yesteryears, are not limited to economic provisions. Men should be physically present in the early days just after birth. This would go a long way in changing the societal socialization that relates child upbringing with women. How else could this be possible other than by providing men with the incentives they need? Employers should step up to the challenge and offer paid paternity leave in the same breadth they do offer paid maternity leave. Otherwise, it amounts to hypocrisy and utmost betrayal for employers to claim to be socially responsible with strong corporate responsibility programs. The denial of paid paternity leave to men compared to the corporate responsibility activities pass out as ‘a robbery of Paul to pay Peter’ (Gray and Anderson 51).
In addition, paid paternity leave should not be limited only to situations where deliveries of babies are involved. Under the American Family laws, paternity leave accrues to a father even in adoption cases. The rationale for providing leave to such fathers is based on the need to allow the newly formed family to bond together. The adopted child would need to get full attention from the new foster parents. From a parental point of view, both the foster father and mother need to be available during the initial days of adoption. Otherwise, the absence of the father, usually because of the need to go to work, may be a start in the wrong footing to say the least. It would be prudent for the employer to understand the complexity of such family issues and allow the father to take leave. In that token, the employer ought to appreciate the continuous monetary needs of the father. The absence from work does not necessarily dispense with monetary needs. Consequently, the obligation lies on the employer to provide not only paternity leave, but also pay for the same (Rutherford 23).
Finally, the issue of paid paternity leave falls under the concept of responsible capitalism. It cannot be debated that the world systems have embraced capitalism with a few exceptions applicable in some nations in varying degrees. The narrative, according to Karl Marx, was that the owners of factors of production would continually exploit the providers of labour. In that set up, employers as owners of factors of production exploit employees as providers of labour. The law of demand and supply twists the scales in favour of employers. This is because labour supply exceeds demand. The terms and rules of engagement remain under the control of employers. It is this that makes them harass employees including failure to provide paid paternity leave. However, in respect of responsible capitalism, otherwise referred to as social capitalism, employers must not take advantage of the upper hand. They must desist from exploiting helpless employees. They should provide paid paternity leave for their employees without necessarily being asked. This would pass out as being sensitive to the needs and requirements of the employees, hence responsible capitalism. Blatant capitalism without responsibility, just as Karl Marx argued, would eventually lead to rebellion by the lower classes that constitute the employee base (Gray and Anderson 21).
In conclusion, the role of males in parenting must not be overlooked. Male parents must be encouraged to contribute not only economically, but also socially in the upbringing of the family. Paid paternity leave by employers serves as an actualization of this ideal concept (Gray and Anderson 33).
Bagilhole, Barbara. Understanding Equal Opportunities and Diversity: The Social Differentiations and Intersections of Inequality. New York: The Policy Press, 2009.
Gray, Peter B and Kermyt G Anderson. Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2010.
Kamerman, Sheila B and Peter Moss. The Politics of Parental Leave Policies: Children, Parenting, Gender and the Labour Market. New York: The Policy Press, 2009.
Rutherford, Sarah. Women's Work, Men's Cultures: Overcoming Resistance and Changing Organizational Cultures. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.