Facebook Supports Paternity Leave

There has been a great deal of news and comment recently regarding the decision by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to take two months of paternity leave upon the birth of their first child late last month, a daughter they named Max. In a recent tweet from Upworthy titled 5 Reasons Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Upcoming Parental Leave Matters for the Rest of Us by Doyin Richards, he identifies why he believes that to be the case:

  1. Being a Dad comes first
  2. Respect for child rearing starts at the top
  3. Facebook is setting the tone for other companies
  4. Zuckerberg is challenging what it means to be a working Dad
  5. Time is important-let’s cherish it

Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook will provide 4 months of paid maternity and paternity leave for its employees. This is great news for working Moms and Dads at Facebook and other companies that may be motivated to do the same.

It is great news for women when men take paternity leave as it promotes real understanding that parenting is not just “lady business” but a priority for Moms and Dads.

Congratulations to Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg on the birth of Max as well as Facebook’s commitment to support both working Moms and Dads. Not every working Mom and Dad have the same opportunity to share the quality and quantity of time with a newborn, but every action of this nature and the press surrounding it raises more awareness on this important issue and helps all of us. Doyin Richards is correct–Mark Zuckerberg’s parental leave matters and helps all of us.

How We Think About Parental Leave?

I recently came across a great blog titled “The Trouble With Parental Leave” authored by Robin Hardman of Robin Hardman Communications. She describes a breakout session she recently attended at the annual WorkLife Congress event about paternity leave. She notes that the conversation soon expanded beyond paternity leave issues to parental leave in general. What is the purpose of paternity leave? What is the purpose of any kind of parental leave?

She briefly summarizes the history behind maternity leave when Congress finally agreed that pregnancy should be treated like any other kind of “medical disability” so that many women would be entitled to paid leave through company disability policies.

The blog highlights many of the ongoing challenges with how we manage parental leave in the U.S. and why reform is needed. The following comment by Ms. Hardman sums up the parental leave situation at present: “Since companies can now cover at least some of the cost of paid leave for biological mothers through disability insurance, and since men may pay a higher career cost than women when they take leave, and since adoption still often ranks as a somehow inferior way of acquiring a child, and since it doesn’t look like the federal government is going to step into legislate change anytime soon–well, it looks like we have a long way to go before parental leave in the U.S. is adequate and equitable.”

In 2015, while a necessary evil so as to allow paid maternity leave for many, it is simply ridiculous that pregnancy is considered a “medical disability.” We all deserve a better law that provides a right to parental leave so that we can make the best possible choices as parents about how to care for and bond with our children.