Dear Mr. Dad: I’m an expectant father and I want to take some time off after our baby is born. But even though my company offers some family-friendly benefits, my boss isn’t very happy about the idea. At all. I know I have legal rights under the Family Leave Act, but I don’t want things to get hostile. Do you have any suggestions for how I might be able to convince my employer?
A: Over the past decade or so, more and more companies are offering family-friendly benefits. But when it comes to male employees, the messages about whether it’s okay to actually use those benefits are, as you’ve discovered, mixed at best. For example, about 13 percent of U.S. employers offer paid paternity leave. But even at those companies, only about half of eligible men take it. The rest don’t, largely out of fear that they’d be committing career suicide. Overall, compared to mothers, fathers are only one-tenth as likely to have ever used parenting leave and one-sixth as likely to have ever worked part time.