Business

Paternity Leave More Common As Dads Demand Equal Time

More U.S. companies are offering paid paternity leave than at any other time in history, yet the latest government statistics show just 17 percent of new dads can take paid time off for their newborn children.
More U.S. companies are offering paid paternity leave than at any other time in history, yet the latest government statistics show just 17 percent of new dads can take paid time off for their newborn children.
Credit Datreic / flickr.com/9653109@N04

More and more U.S. companies are modernizing their parental leave policies to include new fathers.

Former WABE reporter Josh Levs just reached a settlement last week over an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint he filed against Atlanta-based CNN and Turner Broadcasting in 2013.

Levs argued the companies’ leave policy discriminated against biological fathers because the companies offered only two weeks of paid leave to new dads, but 10 weeks to new mothers and adoptive parents of either sex.

Levs said back in May, during an interview on “Closer Look,” a lot of progress had been made in the more than two years since he filed the complaint. CNN and Turner changed their policy at the beginning of this year, offering six weeks of paid leave to all parents, including biological fathers, with additional time for mothers who have medical needs. 

Levs believed it was his colleagues’ support, even more than his complaint, which helped influence CNN and Turner.

“Ultimately, I hope that someday people will look back on this and think it’s really ridiculous that the policy ever even existed in the first place and, fortunately, as a result of people speaking out, including my fellow employees, they made a much better policy later on,” he explained.

Levs wrote a book about the experience, called “All In.”  His attorney Peter Romer-Friedman said as part of the settlement, CNN and Turner agreed to give additional paid parental leave to other biological fathers who requested it before 2015, when the new policy went into effect.

Meantime, Netflix recently unveiled a new parental leave policy that offers unlimited time off to some new mothers and fathers. 

Ernst & Young Global Diversity and Inclusiveness officer Karyn Twaronite said, during an interview on “Closer Look,” that the global accounting and business services firm is constantly reviewing its policies and compensation packages to remain competitive.

“We’re very comfortable that we offer the right amount of time for our people with their families,” Twaronite said.

Twaronite also noted that half the Ernst & Young employees in the U.S. that use the company’s parental leave policy every year are men.

But the U.S. workforce still has a long way to go. The Society for Human Resources Management, or SHRM, issued a recent report that finds only 12 percent of U.S. companies provided paid maternity and paternity leave.

Twaronite, though, said the numbers are improving. Citing the latest statistics, she said 21 percent of U.S. companies provide paid maternity leave and 17 percent provide paid paternity leave.

Most businesses, however, don’t provide maternity or paternity leave at all.

WABE’s Rose Scott, Denis O’Hayer and April Williams contributed to this report.

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