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Why New Dads Don't Take Paternity Leave

Patrick Ball on November 04, 2014 10:42 AM

Remember when Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy missed the first two games of the season to be with his wife for the birth of their first child? The controversy that followed Murphy’s decision served as a clear reminder that, for new dads, taking paternity leave can be trickier than it seems. 

For starters, in the United States, the vast majority of employers do not offer paid paternity leave. Of new dads without access to paid leave, 75 percent take less than a week off work following the birth of their child, while 16 percent don’t take a single day. And even those with access don't always take what they're offered. 

But why? And why is this a problem for not only these new dads and their families, but their employers as well? 

Public perception is changing, as support for working families works its way into the national conversation and advocates become vocal about the reasons dads, like new moms, need access to family leave around the birth of a new child. Access isn't the only issue, however. Whether due to economic constraints or workplace pressures, many new dads cut short time with their families and get pulled back to work. 

Among the leading reasons new fathers aren't taking paternity leave include:

  • It's not offered

  • They can't afford the time off

  • Perception

  • Looming deadlines or projects

  • Fear they'll be replaced or passed over 

  • Parental leave turns into telecommuting 

Learn more about the reasons new fathers aren't taking the leave they're afforded -- and what this means for employers in terms of productivity, retention and company culture -- by downloading's free ebook on Does It Pay to Offer Paid Leave.

Offering paid leave