Dads get more of a (paid) break at work

Fatherly is the millennial news site for dads
Fatherly is the millennial news site for dads

Good news for anyone looking to start a family: Paid parental leave for fathers is no longer a unicorn.

At least judging from the cascade of announcements from a diverse range of employers in just the past year.

During that time, at least 17 big employers have either introduced or expanded paid leave options for new dads.

Only one of them -- Hilton -- offered what is considered the bare minimum of 2 weeks. Other companies, by contrast, now offer anywhere from 6 weeks to 26 weeks, or in the case of Netflix, as much time as a new parent needs in the first year. (See company list below.)

"The rate of expansion is unprecedented," said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work.

That doesn't mean, however, that paid time off for fathers is commonplace. Less than 20% of U.S. employers offer paid paternity leave, according to 2015 survey findings from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Nor does it mean that having the option of paid leave is the same as taking it. A survey by Deloitte found that 36% of men said they would not take advantage of their paid parental leave benefits because they're afraid it might jeopardize their position at work.

But that may start to change as more employers start to offer it. They're doing so in large part because companies are in an arms race with competitors to attract Millennials and keep their best talent on board.

When consulting firm EY announced it would offer 16 paid weeks to new dads, up from six previously, the company said that it "hopes its men understand EY's serious commitment to enabling them to become the kind of parents they want to be."

Related: It's good to be a working parent in Europe

One of the most publicized expansions of paid parental leave came at Facebook, which now lets men and women take 4 months following the birth of a baby, up from 4 weeks previously.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously took two months off when his daughter, Max, was born. "Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families," Zuckerberg said when announcing his decision.

The push toward providing more paid leave for dads started in early 2015, when a few other large companies -- including Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs -- expanded paternity leave or more gender-neutral parental leave policies.

But in keeping with the fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not require paid time off for new parents, the policies are all over the place.

Related: The path to happiness for millennial men is ... kids

Some employers offer far more time than others, of course. But even within a company, a policy may not apply equally to all fathers at a firm. Sometimes hourly employees aren't included or their benefits are less generous than those of salaried workers.

In an effort to ensure all workers get at least some paid time off for parenting and other family care obligations, there have been legislative efforts to set a floor on what must be offered. To date, four states -- California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York -- have passed guaranteed paid family leave laws. And cities like New York, Portland and San Francisco have adopted their own paid parental leave policies.

There are ongoing efforts to do the same at the federal level and in at least 15 other states.

In the meantime, here's a list of companies that have introduced or expanded their paid leave for fathers of newborns:

Amazon: 6 weeks, up from zero

Credit Suisse: 20 weeks, up from 12 weeks

eBay: 12 weeks, up from zero

Etsy: 26 weeks during the first two years, up from 12 weeks (primary caregivers) or 5 weeks (secondary caregivers)

EY: 16 weeks, up from 6 weeks

Facebook: 4 months worldwide, up from 4 weeks

Fidelity: 6 weeks, up from 2 weeks

Hilton: 2 weeks, up from zero

Honest Company: 16 weeks, up from 10 weeks

Microsoft: 12 weeks, up from 4 weeks

Netflix: Unlimited during first year for salaried workers; 12 weeks to 16 weeks for hourly workers

Nvidia: 12 weeks, up from 6 weeks

PayPal: 8 weeks, up from zero in all states but California

Spotify: 6 months, company didn't specify prior policy

Twitter: 20 weeks, up from 10 weeks

Winston & Strawn LLP: 20 weeks, up from 10 weeks for associates and of counsel attorneys

Zillow: 8 weeks, up from zero

Not surprisingly, paid parental leave is one of the most heavily weighted factors that Fatherly, the news site for Millennial dads, considered when compiling its list of the Best Places to Work for New Dads in 2016.

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