NEW YORK – News of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s upcoming two-month paternity leave sheds a new national spotlight on the issue of paid family leave.
It also comes at a time when advocacy groups in New York and several other states are pushing legislation for paid family and medical leave. Eric Williams, state campaign director of the New York Paid Leave Coalition, says Zuckerberg’s announcement could help change the stigma that is sometimes associated with paid leave, and encourage more equitable work environments.
“It’s important for men and women in the workplace being valued the same,” says Williams. “If both men and women are taking paid family leave, it’s good for pay equity between men and women, because there’s no longer a class of people – in this case men – who are not taking paid family leave, getting an advantage for staying in the workplace.”
Marcy Safyer, director of the Adelphi Institute for Parenting, says Zuckerberg’s announcement sends the message to other working parents and policymakers that this is something every parent should have the opportunity to do.
“I think it’s sort of an acknowledgement that this is something that, in the best of all worlds, we would want fathers or second parents in the household to be able to do, because it’s a time when it’s important to build a solid foundation for babies,” says Safyer.
New York is one of five states with a disability insurance program, but it covers only some paid maternity leave for women in the state. Proposals for paid family leave include time off for births or adoptions, as well as caring for family members with a serious illness or disability.
PHOTO: Mark Zuckerberg’s planned paternity leave could affect efforts to enact new paid leave legislation. Credit: Miguel Ugalde.
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