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Paternity Leave Is Better Than Ever, So Why Aren’t Men Taking It?

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It has been a monumental year for paternity leave. According to CNN Money’s Jeanne Sahadi at least 17 big employers including Facebook and Netflix have introduced or expanded paid leave options for new fathers in the past year.The paid leave ranges from 2 weeks to 26 weeks for most of the companies.

Paid paternity leave could soon become the norm and yet there is still a strong stigma around it. A survey by Deloitte found that 36% of men said they would not take advantage of their paid parental leave benefits because they’re afraid it might jeopardize their position at work. Nearly 60 percent of men think that their parental leave could be seen as a lack of commitment to their jobs and 41 percent of all respondents think that taking paternity leave would mean they would miss out on opportunities at work.

[Related: 7 Things No One Tells You About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave]

It seemed like things were on the upswing last November when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when he announced his company would offer 4 months of paid paternity leave and he would be taking two months off for the birth of his first child. With Zuckerberg being such a notable public figure, he was setting a positive example for other men to follow and corporate America to consider. A study in Norway actually found that when one man takes paid paternity leave, his male coworkers become much more likely to do the same.

However, Zuckerberg still did only take half the time offered. This is actually pretty typical of male employees at Facebook: Most of them also only take two months, while female employees take the full four. However, studies show that fathers who take two or more weeks are more involved in their children’s physical care nine months later, and men who do take paternity leave become more present and competent fathers.

“While parental leave is important, it’s just one facet of the larger issue of work and well-being,” Mike Preston, Deloitte’s chief talent officer, said in a statement. “Benefits are great, but work environment matters just as much. Businesses need to cultivate a culture where people feel comfortable doing what it takes to be their best selves and honor their priorities—at work and at home.”

But clearly the need and want for paternity leave and parental leave in general is there. Around 50 percent of those surveyed said they would take more parental leave over a pay raise. Eight percent said they value parental leave over having a better boss, six percent would rather have parental leave than a better title, and four percent would take the time off over a shorter commute.

Photo: Getty Images

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