June 13, 2008
Dads need flexibility too
In today's P-I, reporter Paul Nyhan (aka Working Dad) writes about how despite sharing the parenting load, modern dads can have a hard time finding flexible options in the workplace. As Nyhan reports, there's still a stigma attached to a man asking to work an alternate schedule so he has more time with his kids. Often, dads worry that doing so will jeopardize their career.
The same is true for dads who want paternity leave. A 2007 study from recruitment firm Adecco USA found that 59 percent of U.S. working dads would not take unpaid paternity leave if their employer offered it (remember, most parental leave is unpaid in this country). Their top reason: they can't afford it. The runners up: they're afraid it will damage their career, they're too busy to take time off, or they're afraid they're too indispensible at work.
In researching a story on paternity leave earlier this month, I even had a couple of men tell me their managers sneered at them and made comments about childcare being "a woman's job" when they asked for time off to care for a newborn or the afternoon off to take their kid to the pediatrician. Don't get me started on that one. Just know that the good folks at the Council on Contemporary Families report that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has seen a rise recently in discrimination complaints by men whose employer denied their request for paternity leave.
There are of course a number of shining exceptions to the rigidity rule -- companies that recognize that men (and women) have lives outside the office, as Nyhan's piece points out. And one source at the Council on Contemporary Families told me this week that the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on a bill this month that would grant federal employees with a new child four weeks of paid family leave -- a milestone! -- and that the Senate equivalent isn't too far behind.
So, want to know what you can do to push for parent-friendly workplace policies and legislation for the rest of us? Check out MomsRising.org, a national movement that's been instrumental in getting Washington's new paid family leave bill passed, one of three such state laws in the nation. (The other two are in California and New Jersey; Washington's bill goes into effect October 1, 2009.)
Meantime, have a happy Father's Day, and I'll see you next week.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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