There’s no question that parents in general are overwhelmed with the balance of work and their responsibilities at home. Most companies have at least an awareness of the plight of working mothers and some kind of maternity leave policy. Paternity leave is a different story altogether.
Cultural expectations of what it means to be a mother and a father are changing. After spending a year or two working from home, fathers had the opportunity to experience a similar work environment to working mothers. They were able to take more responsibility for domestic work and spend more time with their kids.
As employees are returning to the office, now is a good time to reassess how we treat working dads. Here are a few things you can do to help make a positive shift:
Ask Fathers What They Want
Not a lot of attention has gone into supporting working dads. So the best place to start is to ask them what they need to achieve the work-life-balance that they desire. Simply by asking you’re acknowledging the importance of their role as a father. You’re also elevating it in importance to the level of the mother. This doesn’t just help dads.
Remember that Supporting Working Dads is Supporting Working Moms
Worldwide, 75% of unpaid domestic work is done by women. This is already challenging when adequate maternity leave isn’t provided and when the mother’s partner isn’t available for support. Support for working fathers is support for working mothers. Giving dads permission to be dads helps alleviate the burden on moms.
Change the Culture
It may take time, but support for working dads requires a shift in culture. Many men feel they will lose status or pay if they prioritize family duties. They also don’t have the same support network as working mothers. You don’t see many #workingdad Slack channels or walking groups. Changing the culture around how working fathers are viewed starts with opening up conversations and getting to know the dads in the workplace.
Allow Sick Leave for a Sick Spouse
If one parent gets sick and the other parent has a full-time job, a dilemma starts. Either the sick parent has to power through the parenting duties or the working parent has to take time off. Offering additional sick leave to support a spouse at home is a great way to support working dads.
Give Paid Paternity Leave
Not only is the birth of a child a huge and exhausting event for a dad. It’s also a physically traumatic event for a mom. Having a partner to help during the healing process shouldn’t be a luxury when it’s such a necessity. Yet, due to lack or short amount of paternity leave, moms are home alone with a new baby losing pay and overextending their health. At the same time, dads are at work missing out on an important transition and unable to take care of their loved ones.
The role of a father in our modern world of work has typically been treated as a provider-only position. But thanks to cultural changes and the pandemic, more and more fathers are experiencing parenthood in a more hands-on, personal way. Ultimately, both parents need support from the workplace in the form of flexibility and adequate leave.
We can help you assess your workplace for any gaps in equity as well as design a plan for overcoming them. As your outsourced HR team, we can work on a project-by-project basis or provide ongoing service. Contact us to find out more.