Paternity leave manual. Let’s take a look at paternal leave policies across the USA, Europe, and Asia.
Voices around paternity leave are rising, especially in the USA. At Calamari, we have compared the paternal leave policies in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Which continent offers the best conditions for men who have just become fathers? What changes can you expect if you are an HR manager or CEO who hires men from across the globe?
The USA: growing demand for paternity leave
The USA labor market doesn’t seem to favor fathers of newborns. Whereas The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles workers to get 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, a study by The United States Department of Labor shows that only 12% of the USA population has access to paid parental leave. Even though women use parental leave more often than men, the number of men on paternal leave is increasing.
The study conducted by Jay L. Zagorsky published by American Public Health Association has shown that the number of men going on paternal leave in the USA has grown by 3 times between 1994–2015, ranging from 6000 to 22 000 men on paternal leave each month. Men usually take their days-offs or sick leave when the child is born. Probably that is why 69% of Americans say that fathers should be eligible to receive paid paternal leave.
At the same time, American society seems to change its opinion about parental leave policies. Young parents say that both mothers and fathers are equally good at taking care of a baby, while the older generation believes it is the mother who should have more rights in this matter.
This trend may result in the growing demand for paternal leave and probably this is what a company hiring American men should expect in the coming years. And the most innovative companies have already answered this need. The fast-paced Silicon Valley is the region with the best parental leave policies in The USA, with some amazing companies said to be the best ones to work for if you plan to have a family.
Europe: authorities guarantee a paid paternity leave, but men rarely reach for it. Why?
The European Union favors not only women but also men who are becoming parents. Sweden was the first European country to accept a paid parental leave over 40 years ago. Over half of European countries have followed since then, offering from 2 days to 28 weeks of paid parental leave that can be requested also by fathers. The Economist draws the conclusion that Central and Eastern European countries are the most generous as it comes to the attitude towards paternal leave. Policymakers of the European countries do their best to increase a birthrate by offering good care over parents who are expecting a baby.
Still, even if the policy favors European fathers, they rarely claim their rights. EU men usually take a few days off right after childbirth, afterwards they go back to their responsibilities.
This attitude seems a little surprising when compared to the USA men, who fight for their right to take a paid leave for raising their child. Researchers say that this phenomenon is caused mainly by men’s fear of a negative impact on their career. What is more, the belief that the mother can take better care of the baby is still strong in European countries, what affects men’s decision in this matter.
Shall we expect any changes here? Probably yes, but not in the near future. Finland and Belgium are the countries where the number of men taking paternal leave has grown over years, but only a few countries followed their example. Still, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development keeps on advising the European policy-makers to work on better and better parental leave options, giving strong reasons why it is good for the entire economy.
Asia: paternal leave differs across countries, and even across provinces
Asia seems to be inconsistent in terms of paternal leave policies across the continent. Paid day-offs for having a child range from 3 days in Hong-Kong to even 1 year in Japan! Singapore offers fathers 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. In China paternity leave differs in each region, ranging from 7 to 30 days of paternity leave. In Malaysia, there is no paternal leave guaranteed by the government, even though some companies offer a few days-off on the occasion of childbirth.
Paternal leave policies in Asia do not offer much to men. However, some companies appear to be understanding and offer paid options nevertheless. International companies based in Asia or the ones that hire Asian employees play the leading role here. Workers of small and medium Asian companies are in a slightly worse situation, though.
Paternal leave in your HR strategy — what to expect?
Even though paternal leaves policies differ all around the world, the issue is getting attention and is discussed more intensively than before. Non-government organizations are calling policy-makers to mind this topic in the times of low childbirth rates. Also, activists observing gender equality across the globe are enhancing to treat mothers and fathers evenly in the matter of raising a child.
What is certain is the fact that the number of men taking a paternal leave will not drop, it is rather expected to grow in the coming years. You should be up-to-date with those policies when you hold a position of an HR manager or CEO. Not only you but also your leave management software should be flexible and ready to adapt to changes easily. At Calamari, we pay attention to this matter and offer you an agile tool to manage your team in the rapidly changing world.
And what about you and your company? Do your male employees decide to take paternal leave? Let us know in the comments!