Everyone has heard of maternity leave for women as it is quite common for all occupations. The new mom, after she has given birth, will take some time off from her job to heal up and make sure the new baby has a good first couple of months or so. The maternity leave can last as long as three months and the woman will receive at least a portion of her pay during this period.
Everyone looks at maternity leave as a good thing as it gives the mother a chance to bond with her newborn. However, why isn’t paternity leave nearly as unified in acceptance? As a new father myself, this has been something that has been brought to my attention recently by other fathers that are new to parenting. How is that being the father of a new baby does not seem to count as much for many employers?
The Basics with Maternity Leave in Education
Depending on the school district and the region you live in, the guidelines associated with maternity leave may be a bit flexible. Plus, how much of that maternity leave is paid is always in question. In education, for instance, there are some districts that will offer a full three month paid maternity leave for their teachers and that is without having to delve into their accumulated sick days.
But on the other hand, there are districts that only offer unpaid maternity leave. Although, they will still give them the full three months and their jobs will be waiting for them when they return. It is something to consider when accepting a teaching position in a different district. It may not seem like much at the moment, but knowing you have a full paid maternity leave if you are looking ahead to starting a family should allow you to rest easier at night.
How Common Is Paternity Leave?
In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents (both maternity and paternity leave). Out of all of these companies, only 14 percent offer paid paternity leave to the father.
Recently, the European Union has voted to approve a 10-day minimum paternity leave to be enforced in all European countries. This is being done to promote gender equality in today’s age. There are some countries in Europe that offer a full 16 week paid paternity leave for fathers, but the 10-day minimum is in place the regions that do not look at fatherhood as a need for days off.
Paternity Leave as a Teacher
Once again, it all depends on the district you are teaching in how paternity leave is looked at. For example, one of my friends that is an educator entered into fatherhood a couple of months ago. His school was only able to provide him with two paid days off for paternity leave. He was forced to cite the FMLA to administration and they worked out a deal to give him six weeks of unpaid paternity leave. But the fact that he had to twist their arms to get this was a bit preposterous since they all work in education and supposedly want to provide families the best opportunity to succeed in life.
Maybe Plan Ahead If Given the Chance?
As an educator, it is extremely difficult to afford taking two to three months off from work and having it be unpaid. Teaching is not the highest-paid occupation and the thought of earning no income for possibly 12 weeks is not something to look forward to. It may not even be a possibility for most fathers that are concerned about providing for their families.
Because of this, if you are wanting to add to your family, it may be best to plan ahead if possible. As a teacher, you know you can count on having the summer months off. If you can schedule having your new baby sometime in June, perhaps you will not need as much time off then when school begins once again.
In this day and age, paid parental leave is becoming more common than it ever has been. But we also have to look realistically at it by considering how some companies just can’t afford offering it to all of their employees. It’s just a fact of life. However, in education, with a bit of planning and looking toward the future, perhaps you will not have to count on paternity leave to be able to spend time with your wife and new baby.