Companies Are Offering More Paternity Leave, So Why Aren't Dads Taking It?

Companies Are Offering More Paternity Leave, So Why Aren't Dads Taking It?

Sometimes, 11 weeks seems like a long stretch — that's about how long you still have to wait between now and the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones (I know!).

Other times, it can feel like a blip in time, like when you're a new dad adjusting to life with baby. In fact, 11 weeks is the average paternity leave offered by the companies on Fatherly's list of the 50 best companies for new dads.

The good news is that this leave time has nearly tripled from the 4 weeks offered in 2015, which means the average time off has gone up by about a month each year since the analysis began. Broken down further, more than a quarter of companies offer at least six weeks with your new bundle of joy, and 30% offer eight.

Here's the not-so-great reality check: While some companies have made great strides in providing leave and childcare access for new parents, dads especially may be more pressured to decline taking time off.

"Most dads have no access to paid leave at all," said Josh Levs, author and former CNN journalist, to CNBC. "Even when it's available, the overwhelming majority goes unused. The pressures against men taking leave are tremendous."

The pressure may sound all too familiar to men who, according to a report from the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market, are more likely to feel happier at work when they think they clock in more hours than their coworkers.

But having paid leave on the table and not taking it may also take its toll. Pew Research data shows that dads feel just as guilty as moms about being unable to strike a comfortable work-life balance.

On the bright side, the Fatherly report also noted that an increasing share of companies are offering a more flexible leave policy, including allowing paternity leave to be split or taken later in a newborn's first year, and offering childcare benefits in the form of on-site care or subsidies.

Even with the increase in benefits, we still have a way to go to reach Netflix-levels of paid paternity leave — the streaming company offers a full 52 weeks off for full-time employees.

But if there comes a time when there's more gender parity in childcare, especially for newborns, maybe new moms will finally be able to rest a little easier — we can only hope.

RELATED: New-Baby Expenses You Should Definitely Budget For

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