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As Father’s Day Approaches, All About Paternity Leave

How much time should dads take off after a new child is born?
How much time should dads take off after a new child is born?File photo

Working dads who participated in a new study from Boston College’s Center for Work and Family generally took between one and two weeks off after the birth of a new child.

The study is not an absolute reflection of what all working dads do, as some of its subjects were drawn from a pool of companies partnered with the school that were more likely to offer paternity leave. While 67 percent of respondents said their companies offer paternity leave, Forbes reported last year that only 13 percent of employers offer paid leave. So the BC study isn’t necessarily a measurement of all working dads, but rather how those dads act if they have the benefit. That more than 40 percent of respondents said they would not use paternity leave unless it paid them 100 percent of their normal salary drives that point home.

However, the survey did consist of more than a thousand dads at nearly 300 companies. Asked how much time they took off after their most recent child was born, close to 40 percent of those who said two weeks. About another quarter said one week. Slightly more than 5 percent said they took no time at all.

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As for an ideal, about 74 percent of those surveyed said they felt dads should get between two and four weeks off—with slightly more saying two weeks, rather than three to four, sounded about right.

By and large, though, they’ll take about as much time off as their employer allows. The survey found that 49 percent of those with one week of paternity leave would use that full week; 64 percent of those offered two weeks used two weeks; 41 percent of those offered four weeks used four; and 45 percent of those offered six used all six.

In each of those instances, no higher percentage of dads used an amount of time other than what had been allotted. But an additional 26 percent of dads afforded one week took two, as was the case for 29 percent of those offered four weeks and 28 percent of those who took six. That indicates that two weeks appears to be second favorite to “however much time my boss will give me” when fathers think about taking some time off with their newborn.

Millennial fathers (93 percent) were more likely to rate paternity leave as important than Generation X dads (88 percent) and Baby Boomers (77 percent). And 57 percent of fathers disagreed when asked if they should get as much time off as new moms.

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