A study published in 2012 by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Connecticut found that only 12% of fathers took paid parental leave when it was offered, compared with 69% of mothers. Currently, expecting mothers and fathers are only protected by two federal laws: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Currently, pregnant employees are treated no differently than other temporarily-disabled employees and expecting fathers have even less protection unless they qualify for FMLA leave. There is pending legislation, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which seeks to provide greater protections to pregnant and expecting father employees, but it does appear many private employers, like Yahoo, are voluntarily providing generous leave policies, but fathers are not utilizing the leave advantages.
A Marketwatch.com article on paternity leave shows, most companies offer more generous paternity leave than maternity leave:
While 11% of companies offered additional paid maternity leave beyond paid
disability leave in 2011, more employers, or 13%, offered paid paternity leave.
That’s because maternity leave is much more expensive for companies to offer,
since mothers are much more likely to use all they are given (and might take the
weeks off anyway, without pay), says Sladek. “There’s just a lot of societal
pressures on men, more so than women, so it’s harder for men to take the full
Even when men do take paternity leave, they often spend some of it working,
perhaps contributing to their employer’s bottom line even when not at the
office. The researchers behind the 2012
study which surveyed male and female professors on the tenure track, noted a
theme of dads on leave working more than caring for their infant: “We heard
stories of male academics who took paid post birth leave in order to advance
their publishing agendas,” they wrote. “Another had taken leave while his child
was in full-time day care.”
Another surprising statistic is that only approximately 11% of the private sector workforce has access to designated paid family leave. Pregnancy discrimination remains one of the more fluxing areas of employment discrimination and appears to continue to be a bigger issue for women than for men.