A National Partnership for Women & Families report released for Father’s Day, “Dads Expect Better: Top States for New Dads,” includes an analysis of state laws and regulations governing paid leave and workplace rights for new fathers in the United States.
According to the report, 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place that expand upon federal law to address the needs of new and expecting fathers who work in the private sector. California and New Jersey lead the nation by providing paid family leave insurance to both mothers and fathers. Connecticut and the District of Columbia are the only two jurisdictions that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days.
Maine, Oregon and Washington are among the states that have expanded access to unpaid, job-protected leave for workers not covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
In addition, the report finds that 18 states do nothing beyond what federal law requires to offer new parents leave from work to care for a new child. Another 18 states have laws in place that only help new mothers or state employees.
Past research, including two studies commissioned by NPWF, shows that access to paid leave policies makes it more feasible for fathers to take leave in connection with a child’s arrival, and fathers who take leave are more likely to be involved in that child’s direct care long term.
Noting that “progress is painfully slow,” Ness says “it’s time for policymakers to be responsive to the needs of working families … America’s fathers and mothers cannot afford to wait any longer for public policies that enable them to be good workers and good family members, especially when children arrive.”
The United States’ policies for new fathers lag behind those of other countries. At least 66 countries ensure that fathers either receive or have a right to paid leave when a new child arrives; at least 31 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. Among 21 highly competitive countries, the United States ranks near the middle by guaranteeing fathers 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the federal FMLA, but only about half of the workforce is eligible and many cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.
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