WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO EMPLOYERS?
From an employer’s perspective, increasing fathers’ take up of parental leaves is an important policy objective for improving gender equality in the labour market, the workplace and at home.
But it would bring with it new challenges around productivity and distribution of work. Managing extended absence from the workplace for both genders will require planning and effort, but the societal benefits (not to mention to employee morale) may outweigh the costs.
More equitable parental leave policies increase the likelihood that women will return to employment after leave and spend more time in paid work. Employers should keep in mind that paid parental leave programs are intended to help parents balance work and family responsibilities. Furthermore, employers should remember that evolving parental leave programs, including an increase in Canadian men claiming parental leave benefits, correspond with ongoing employment and social changes, including an increasing expectation that fathers be involved with the care of children.
Do your workplace policies reflect the current social and legislative trends?
Contact Clear Path and speak to one of our consultations for information on parental leaves under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000.
With Father’s Day coming up, it's a good time to reflect on the changing issues facing fathers in the workplace and at home.
You may have read about Richard Branson's jaw-dropping announcement that he is now granting Virgin Group employees who are new fathers a 12 month paternity leave at full pay (to equal the benefits offered to new mothers). Happy Father's Day!
From an HR perspective, most organizations are going to be able to compete with that generous benefit and typically rely on government involvement in paying new parents on leave.
Let's look at Ontario’s Parental Leave legislation and how this legislation compares to paternity and parental leaves in different countries.
Although Canadian legislation does not specifically allow for paternity leave, Ontario grants new parents the right to parental leave when a baby or child is born or first comes into their care (such as through adoption).
Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), new parents are entitled up to 37 weeks’ unpaid parental leave. In contrast, the federal Employment Insurance Act provides eligible employees with maternity and/or parental benefits that may be payable while the employee is off on an ESA leave.
However, the rules governing the right to take time off work for a leave under the ESA are different from the rules regarding the payment of benefits under the federal Employment Insurance Act. For example, a new father may choose to take a parental leave under the ESA up to 52 weeks after the child is born, but there are restrictions on accessing the employment insurance parent benefits during this time.
The proportion of Canadian fathers taking time off and receiving paid parental leave benefits (55% of earnings) has increased from approximately 3% prior to the 2001 rule changes, to approximately 20% today. Some couples decide to split the total of 52 eligible weeks between them, either taken consecutively (one partner off at a time) or concurrently (at the same time).
How does this compare around the world?
According to the International Labour Organization in their 2014 publishing entitled “Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice across the World,” insufficient compensation levels greatly affect the amount of take up rates by fathers. According to their study, fathers’ use of parental leave entitlements have been shown to be highest when compensation is at least 50 percent of earnings and duration is at least fourteen days.
Which governments are the most generous with paid paternity leave?
What about the U.S.?
The U.S. has the unfortunate distinction of being 1 of only 2 countries (along with Papua New Guinea) of not mandating any paid maternity leave, but does allow for up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. With this in mind, it is not surprising that paid paternity leave is not mandated in the U.S.
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