15 out of 51? Dads Expect Better

| Jun 17, 2012

This weekend, we celebrate dads. Fathers serve as both breadwinners and caregivers in most families, just as women do. And that’s why our nation’s dads a well as its moms need workplace policies that are more family friendly.

That’s what inspired us at the National Partnership to revisit our recently released assessment of family friendly laws at the state and federal levels, Expecting Better, with a focus on how well those laws support fathers who work in the private sector. This week, we released the results in a special report, Dads Expect Better – a detailed look at public policies that help new dads when a new child arrives.

As Dads Expect Better explains, just 14 states and the District of Columbia (15 out of 51 jurisdictions) have enacted policies that expand upon federal law to support new dads (as well as moms) when a child arrives. These states make family leave available to more parents, provide paid leave insurance, or do something else to make work more family friendly. Of the 36 states that do nothing beyond minimum federal standards for dads, 18 states do nothing for either parent and the other 18 states have laws in place that only help new mothers or state employees. In other words, it’s a sad state of affairs for working dads in this country, and the families who count on them – and our nation suffers as a result.

In a country where two-thirds of children live in households where all parents hold jobs, failing to support parents in the workplace can have detrimental, long lasting effects on families’ health, economic security and overall well-being. Fortunately, as we can see in this report, a few states are leading the way and providing good models for national policies.

California and New Jersey are among the top states for new dads who work because they provide paid family leave insurance to both mothers and fathers. Connecticut and the District of Columbia guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days. And Maine, Oregon and Washington are among the states that have expanded access to unpaid, job-protected leave for workers who are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. These states recognize the widespread benefits of family friendly policies for fathers, families and our economy.

Action at the state level to adopt these policies is promising, but it’s simply unacceptable that a mere 15 out of 51 jurisdictions are taking action to help new parents. We need national policies that recognize the ways our families live and work today. Other countries are putting us to shame in this regard; at least 66 countries ensure that fathers receive or have a right to paid leave when a new child arrives. The United States isn’t one of them. Click here to let lawmakers know that working parents need paid leave.

On Father’s Day and every day we need to recognize what America’s families really need and advance policies that will help. Family friendly policies like paid leave and paid sick days are at the top of the list. It’s time for progress at the state and federal levels.