TOPIC / Mums

Gender-equal parental leave cares for the entire family as well as your Baby.

As the Mother of two children myself, I recall the challenge of essentially learning the new role of parent. Babies are so fragile and also so needy and your love for them is unmeasurable, so it is not surprising that most parents prefer to take on this role for themselves when they first introduce a baby to this world. There is however one little matter of paid employment that can sometimes get in the way, after all, you now have to clothe and feed your family. In recent years we have seen the introduction of Paid Maternity leave however is all fair in love and work?

Australian Fathers

Well done Baker McKenzie, becoming the first major law firm in Australia to announce gender-equal parental leave. That’s 18 weeks + super to ALL eligible employees welcoming a new child, regardless of whether there is another parent at home.

In family law, the primary caretaker is the parent who has taken care of a child most basic needs. Feeding, bathing, grooming and clothing of a child are all considered responsibilities of a primary caretaker and it is fantastic that Baker McKenzie identifies that this role can be completed regardless of gender.

American Fathers

One of the largest banks in the world just settled a gender discrimination lawsuit that was filed by men.

JPMorgan Chase has now agreed to pay $5 million to a group of male employees who were discouraged from taking 16 weeks of paid parental leave to care for a new child, according to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the organizations that brought the class action lawsuit on the employees’ behalf.

It’s the first class action settlement stemming from a lawsuit by a male employee claiming that fathers were denied certain parental leave benefits because of their gender.

On paper, JPMorgan’s paid parental leave policy was generous and didn’t seem problematic. It offered 16 weeks of paid leave for a new child’s primary caregiver and two weeks off for secondary caregivers. But in practice, fathers who stated they were the primary caregiver were old the company considers mothers the main caregivers, according to filed settlement.

Post-settlement the company has now agreed to make sure that both men and women can take the longer leave benefit offered to a baby’s primary caregiver.

Because of men from taking parental leave impact women’s careers, to this case was taken up by a women’s rights group.

Gender stereotypes about motherhood harm women at work

One of the most interesting parts of cases like this is that parental leave policies discriminate against men and women alike as it relies upon and enforces a sex-based stereotype that women should be caretakers of children, and that women should remain at home to care for a newborn baby instead of the co-parent.

The risk of a lawsuit goes a long way in encouraging companies to reshape workplace culture for both men and women.


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