WDYT 1/20: Should it be Mandatory to take Parental Leave?

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Parental leave is a strangely still a controversial topic. Some corporations and governments, especially in the United States (one of three countries in the world which does not have any federally mandated parental leave), resist leave policies as too burdensome or expensive. Others, like Germany or Sweden, have generous policies (f.e. German Parents can apply for parental allowance as a state financial support) but they are still tying women to the home.

In reality, employers who have embraced paid family leave have found that it is, in fact, quite the opposite. They find that giving employees parental leave, whether by choice or regulation, has at best, a positive impact on productivity and profitability, and at worst, no impact at all. Companies that offer generous family leave options also report increases in overall employee retention, loyalty, and satisfaction, which, in turn, increase productivity and profits.

However, in Germany for example just 37 percent of fathers took paid leave in 2018, 72 percent of those who took the paid leave, just took the minimum amount of 2 months (which are needed to extend the overall state funded leave for both parents to 14 months).

Why is it still controversial? We have seen the largest and most successful companies, even in the U.S., begin to offer generous parental leave benefits. They have found that what is good for their employees is good for business. Smart businesses know that few people can afford the cost of raising a newborn while taking unpaid leave. Companies without robust policies can find themselves losing their very best talent and absorbing the cost of recruiting and training their replacements.

What do you think? What is the future of family leave? Is parental leave good business? Is it a societal good that it should be mandated for both parents? Think about it.

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Christian is a manager, activist, author, lecturer and curator. https://christianhei.se

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