Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got people talking once again today, with comments to the United Nations supporting the idea of extra parental leave just for dads.
The PM didn’t lay out any kind of a concrete plan, but suggested adding time that only fathers can use would be a way of improving gender equality.
Chantelle Krish with the YWCA says it’s an idea whose time has come.
Currently, Employment Insurance provides parents with 12 months of leave time which can be divvied up between them however they like.
While Trudeau was skinny on the details of how something like this would play out, Krish says her organization supports a model that tacks an extra six months on to the end of that, available only to men
Based on a European model, those months would be there on a “use it or lose it” basis.
“So they can take it and it’s there for them, and that would give not just dads a push, but give employers the opportunity to have that as well.”
Good for kids, good for dads
So why give dads the extra time? Krish says the clear and obvious benefit of giving dads some extra time with their children is that it allows them more of an opportunity to connect with the kids during a critical formative time.
And she says there’s evidence showing having a dad at home sharing the work load can lead girls into higher powered careers as adults.
Good for moms
But Krish says the really big winner of this system is actually moms. That’s because under the traditional parental leave system moms usually take more time…. then end up getting saddled with domestic roles in the long term.
“We do see much more of the women taking that on than men. A lot of that does have to do with early care giving, breastfeeding – but historically it also has to do with the traditional male female gender roles.
[Leave for men] helps to support women in dividing the family responsibilities at an early, crucial time, and so it leads to a more gender balanced system at home. Otherwise you see in a lot of families women taking on a lot more of the unpaid work.”
Krish says it also helps balance the scales when it comes to getting women back into the work force. She says men often want to participate more at home, but might not feel comfortable asking for it without a legal policy like this in place.
“Extra parental leave reserved for men challenges these stereotypes by by encouraging more dads to stay at home and really level the playing field for women to contribute more into the workforce.”
Krish admits the idea might not be an immediate home run with small business owners who could struggle to replace staff.
But she says she believes in the long run it’s an economic winner.
She says that’s because under the current system companies are already losing out on productivity when it comes to new parents, who may burn extra sick days… or come in to work exhausted and stressed, cutting into the quality of their work.