Why men are hesitant to take parental leave

Some 41% feel they would lose opportunities on projects

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Less than half of U.S. employees feel their company fosters an environment in which men are comfortable taking parental leave, according to a new survey by Deloitte.

The survey, which polled 1,000 Americans with access to benefits through their employer, also found that one-third of respondents feel that taking parental leave would jeopardize their position, while more than than a half (54 per cent overall, 57 per cent of men) feel it would be perceived as a lack of commitment to the job. Some 41 per cent feel they would lose opportunities on projects.

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“There’s still a burden on men, and in cases where one parent takes care of a child, the default would be for fathers to be the breadwinner and for mothers to stay at home,” says Justin Trottier, executive director at the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, in response to the findings. “The more we showcase different family models, the more we send positive signals that there’s more options for fathers.”

An overwhelming majority (64 per cent) of respondents believe companies should offer men and women the same amount of parental leave. More than half of respondents (54 per cent), however, feel their colleagues would judge a father who took the same amount of parental leave as a mother.

The research also found:

  • 50 per cent of respondents would rather have parental leave than a pay raise.
  • 88 per cent would value their organization expanding leave policies to include family care beyond parental leave.
  • 77 per cent of respondents indicated that the amount of parental leave offered by an employer has at least a little sway on their decision when choosing one company over another.

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Many large employers are leveraging their parental leave benefits, including Coca-Cola, EY, Facebook and Netflix, which have all enhanced their policies in the past couple of years.

“Parental leave is about much more than recovering from a medical event. It’s about bonding with a new child – and that goes for fathers as well as mothers,” said Deepa Purushothaman, national managing director of Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative. “Many employees, male and female, are coming to expect the flexibility to support caregiving and family needs, and employers can help by ensuring their people are not stuck deciding between their job and family.”

This was originally published on Benefits Canada

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