Sunday, July 09, 2006

Paternity Leave. All the Hip Kids are Doing It.

Last winter, I was briefly excited about an article in Fortune that suggested that modern masters of the universe actually wanted more work-life balance. I wasn't bowled over by the novelty of the article's premise, but was very, very happy that it ran in Fortune, of all places. In the modern economy, it seems that the folks at the top of the pyramid are the best bet for a working culture that respects the commitments of fathers. Fortune is aimed at those top-of-the-pyramid guys.

So I was naturally thrilled to read a new Wall Street Journal column from the weekend (forwarded to me by Keith -- thanks!) that trumpets paternity leave as "The Next Frontier." (Sub. only, in the event the link as expired). My hope is that we're seeing a nascent recognition of family leave as something that is -- gasp -- normal for new fathers, and if the Wall Street Journal is going to promote that idea, God bless 'em.

I'm not just wowed by the Journal choosing to write on the topic. On the merits, it's a great piece:
Many men worry about how this will look in a world where 'leaving to spend more time with his family' is generally code for having been fired. If someone holds your leave against you come promotion time later on, that income lost to leave will pale in comparison to the long-term effect of a foregone raise. But if daddy-leave still has a stigma, perhaps it's because so many people who could afford to take it aren't choosing to blaze a trail for the rest of the paternity fraternity.
So kudos to the author, Ron Lieber, who is beginning his own leave this month. Hope to see him on the playground.

As a related aside the fine folks at the Center for WorkLife Law have published a new report -- Litigating the Maternal Wall -- on the skyrocketing suits over "family responsibilities discrimination" -- noting that cases where employers are being illegally punished for their family commitments is up 400 percent in the last decade. Forty-three of those cases have involved male caregivers. The fight for a sane balance between work and family is being fought on many levels -- from the courts to the pages of the WSJ -- and I stand behind all of those efforts.


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