Co-Workers Are Donating Their Days Off To New Parents. Here's Why That's A Problem.

"You know what would be a better baby shower gift? Paid maternity and paternity leave."

It's no secret that when it comes to parental leave benefits, America is far from number one. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate paid parental leave, according to 2016 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  And while the number of companies offering paid leave has increased between 2016 to 2018, it's still not anywhere close to what other developed nations offer.

So, when a July 18 Good Morning America article highlighted a recent trend where co-workers are donating vacation days to new parents as baby shower gifts, it sparked an important conversation on social media. 

While it's a nice gesture, the fact that it has to happen at all is a major problem. Those on Twitter were quick to point this out.

Despite studies proving time and time again, that there are benefits to parental leave, too many people do not have access even with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, which requires large businesses to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave. FMLA only applies to 40 percent of workers, and only 15 percent of men receive replacement pay during paternity leave. While 58 percent of women receive pay, it's typically funded through the disability benefits of their health insurance provider. 

Most people cannot afford to take unpaid time off work as it is, and according to a new study conducted by Promundo and Dove Men+Care, one in five men (22 percent) actually fear losing their job if they take the full amount of paternity leave offered. 

"The struggles of dads are taking place in the shadows, unfortunately," Josh Levs, paternity leave advocate and Dove Men+Care partner, told A Plus earlier this month.

Based on the tweets and comments, it's clear many want the government to impose changes to give parents paid paternal leave which would eliminate the need for co-workers to donate their time. It is important for individuals and companies to act. One step forward, for example, was when Estée Lauder announced its family-friendly paid leave policy in May. 

"We need to get paid family leave going," Levs told A Plus. "It's clear that it will not happen federally under the current administration and Congress, so we need to push for it locally in more states, as well as within businesses. California, New Jersey. Rhode Island, New York, and Washington all now have it, and it's proven great for business and the economy. We also need to educate more business about the monetary incentives to offering paid paternity leave, as it's proven to attract and retain talent while boosting profits."

(H/T: BuzzFeed)

Cover image via  Halfpoint I Shutterstock

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