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How Dad-Friendly Is Your State? Report Grades Paid-Leave Policies for New Dads

With Father's Day just around the corner, a new study reveals that paid leave laws aren't too sweet for many of our nation's new dads: Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws specifically meant to help new fathers in the private sector.

"Dads Expect Better: Top States for New Dads," a special report compiled by the National Partnership for Women & Families, offers a state-by-state analysis of state laws and regulations governing paid leave and workplace rights for new fathers (and new mothers) in the United States.

"Employed men and women in this country need policies that allow them to care for their families without sacrificing their economic security," said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. "Sadly, our public and workplace policies are failing too many working parents. America's families expect and deserve much better."

Report: "Dads Expect Better: Top States for New Dads"

"Dads Expect Better" grades each state after assigning points based on criteria including the availability of various paid family leave and sick laws. California and New Jersey lead the nation by providing paid family leave insurance to both mothers and fathers. Connecticut and the District of Columbia are the only two jurisdictions that guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days. Maine, Oregon and Washington are among the states that have expanded access to unpaid, job-protected leave for workers not covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

While 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place that expand upon federal law to address the needs of new and expecting fathers who work in the private sector, another 18 states received a grade of an F.

The Benefit of Helping Dads

Past research, including two studies commissioned by the National Partnership, shows that access to paid leave policies makes it more feasible for fathers to take leave in connection with a child's arrival, and fathers who take leave are more likely to be involved in that child's direct care long term. Controlling for other related factors, fathers who have access to paid leave also are less likely to receive public assistance and food stamps in the year following a child's birth than fathers who do not take any leave.

Despite these benefits, the report finds that 18 states do nothing beyond what federal law requires to offer new fathers or mothers leave from work to care for a new child. Another 18 states have laws in place that only help new mothers or state employees.

The United States' policies for new fathers lag behind those of other countries. At least 66 countries ensure that fathers either receive or have a right to paid leave when a new child arrives; at least 31 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave. Among 21 highly competitive countries, the United States ranks near the middle by guaranteeing fathers 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the federal FMLA, but only about half of the workforce is eligible and many cannot afford to take the unpaid leave it provides.

To determine the ranking in the report, the National Partnership reviewed different but overlapping public policies aimed at helping new fathers who work in the private sector in each state and the District of Columbia.


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