More Paid Leave for U.K. Dads
03.31.09 New legislation encourages men "to play an equal part in parenting."
A big victory for paternity rights is in the works over in the United Kingdom—putting the United States even further behind when it comes to family leave, the Guardian newspaper reports. Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on Monday proposed changes to maternity leave legislation, allowing fathers to take more paid time off.
The EHRC hopes the suggested revisions will help address the gender imbalance in the U.K.'s current maternity leave policy and encourage fathers "to play an equal part in parenting."
In addition to 26 weeks of maternity leave with 90 percent of pay for mom, the new plan also offers two weeks of paternity leave at the birth of a child with 90 percent of pay. Beyond the first six months of leave for new moms, the EHRC proposes three four-month blocks of parental leave with 90 percent of pay, which can be take at any time before the child's fifth birthday. One block would be dedicated to mothers, one to fathers and one either could take. Parents would not be able to take parental leave at the same time.
American maternity benefits are sadly lacking. Out of 173 countries worldwide, the U.S. is one of only five that doesn't guarantee paid leave to give birth and care for a newborn. The U.S. does have the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protection. And while several states are considering paid family leave, California is the only one that currently offers it.
If you're expecting and plan to take some time off after your baby is born, check out our experts' three cardinal rules for negotiating maternity leave.
Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.