Is Parental Leave a Right or a Privilege?

Posted by Kelleher International on Nov 27, 2015 7:27:00 AM

Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.comNews outlets have reported that Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to take two months of paternity leave. Zuckerberg is currently expecting a baby girl with his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. The couple have not yet shared their due date, but it is clear they are very excited parents and look forward to giving their daughter plenty of time with her parents. Zuckerberg’s announcement does raise the question: is parental leave something employees are entitled to or should it simply be a matter of whether or not a person is lucky enough to work for the right company?

 

Zuckerberg shared his thoughts in a very personal Facebook post earlier this month: “Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families.”

 

Facebook currently offers their U.S. employees up to four month paid parental leave, which may be taken at any time throughout the first year after a birth or adoption. This far exceeds federal law, which only requires new parents receive 12 weeks off – without pay. Companies with fewer than 50 employees are not legally required to adhere to these laws. While individual states have their own regulations regarding paid parental leave, these laws vary widely across the U.S.

 

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that only 12 percent of workers in the private sector receive paid parental leave through their employers.

 

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and author of the book, Lean In, commented on Zuckerberg’s Facebook post: “Mark and Priscilla, I’m so excited for both of you. Enjoy the precious early months with your daughter – I can’t wait to meet her.” Sandberg has notoriously advocated for parents of both genders to “lean in” to their parental roles so both may have successful careers.

 

Kelleher International matchmakers regularly hear from clients whose family lives impact their professional careers. Exclusive professional dating and matchmaking services help eligible singles meet others looking for compatibility, but there is so much more than what happens on the first date. Once a couple has decided to get married and start a family, parental rights take precedent. For many who run their own businesses, parental leave is an even trickier issue.

 

Zuckerberg and Sandberg are not the only parents to assert their rights. YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki, was Google’s first employee to take maternity leave back when the company was still just a startup. She has since written articles for the Wall Street Journal advocating for family leave, using Google’s own statistics to support her claims. After Google increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks in 2007, the rate at which new moms left the company fell by 50 percent.

 

Netflix seems to have been swayed by these numbers, as they are set to implement unlimited parental leave for the first year after a birth or adoption.

 

Should parental leave be determined by whether someone is “lucky” enough to work for the right company? How has parenthood changed the way you work?

 

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