The Fight For Better Maternity Leave

Can Dads Take Time Off?

While FMLA applies regardless of sex or adoption status, less than a quarter of employers in the United States offer paid paternity leave, according to the 2008 National Study of Employers, published by the Families and Work Institute. Even fathers with access to leave may not feel comfortable stepping out of the workplace for weeks or months at a time. About half of employed dads take some vacation time or other leave after welcoming a new child, but it lasts an average of only 12 workdays.

Kenneth Sharperson, an attorney who practices in Newark, New Jersey, has taken three paternity leaves of varying lengths. "I am a better dad for taking leave. I also feel like a better employee because my company respected me enough to allow me to take leave, and I work harder when I return," says Sharperson. At press time, his wife was expecting their fourth child.

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