California has one of the most progressive paid leave protections for new parents, thanks to the 2004 Paid Family Leave act. We are one of the few states in the U.S. that guarantees that workers taking time off to care for their newborn receive at least a portion of their regular income while they are away, and that their employer must provide them with the same or equivalent job when the employee returns.
This allows both mothers and fathers to bond with their new child and be there for them in the infant’s first weeks, without giving up their jobs or their entire pay. Traditionally, the expectation was that the mother would take leave while the father would continue working. But research indicates that paternity leave has real benefits for both parents, as well as the child.
Effects of parental leave on the family
An article in the Georgetown Public Policy Review suggests that just two weeks of paternity leave improves an infant’s social, cognitive and emotional development, and positively affects the father’s feeling of satisfaction when interacting with their infant.
Sharing the load of child-rearing in the early weeks and months is greatly beneficial to mothers. Countries where fathers and mothers tend to take parental leave tend also to have more gender equality in the workplace. It also appears that mothers in heterosexual relationships enjoyed better mental and physical health after giving birth when the father participated in parental leave.
When the father puts their work on hold, it can also strengthen his relationship with the mother. Even a shorter paternity leave is associated with a reduced divorce rate.
Denied parental leave and your rights
Whether one or both parents takes parental leave should be up to the couple, not their employers. If you were denied parental leave by your company, or if your job was not waiting for you when you returned, you could be entitled to significant compensation.