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The State of Maternity Leave

What About Dads?

What About Dads?

Tim Witkowski of Orland Park, IL, was determined to have an intimate relationship with his newborn. The utility-company inspector saved furiously before his son's birth so he could take three unpaid months off work in addition to the four weeks of paid vacation he'd accumulated. "I believe it brought all three of us tighter together," he says, in response to our survey. "I know I'm closer to my wife because she's seen my dedication to the family."

Witkowski is one of a growing number of fathers who are rearranging their lives -- and taking advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act -- to spend time with their infant, says Martin Malin, a professor of employment law at Chicago-Kent College of Law. In fact, 33 percent of our survey respondents say their husband took more than vacation time away from work.

A few large corporations, including Merrill Lynch, Patagonia, and Lotus Software, have begun to offer paid paternity leave. But it's still rare, since companies aren't able to tap into their short-term-disability insurance to pay for it. The good news: Experts see a shift coming. "I think that twenty years from now, fathers will be given more time off to be with their children. The next generation's going to expect it," says Malin.

Around the World

More than 120 countries provide paid maternity leave to all employees. Here's what a few offer (Source: International Labor Organization):

  • Germany: 100% of wages for 14 weeks
  • France: 85% of wages for 16 to 26 weeks
  • Israel: 75% of wages for 12 weeks
  • Japan: 60% of wages for 14 weeks