EY more than doubles number of fathers taking paid parental leave

The number of new fathers at EY using their paid parental leave to bond with a new child has more than doubled since the company debuted the benefit in 2016.

The accounting firm reports that about 250 fathers took the full 16 weeks of time off in 2018 versus 108 in 2016. Additionally, 60% of dads are taking more than three weeks of time off, which is up from 45% in 2016.

The increase may have to do with evolving gender roles. Two-thirds of EY’s employees are millennials and many are dual-career couples, which makes benefits that encourage flexibility a high priority, says Karyn Twaronite, global diversity and inclusiveness officer at EY.

See also: Bloomberg expands gender-neutral paid parental leave

“As employers, it is important to provide flexible, equitable programs that support all people, including new fathers who want to be great dads and supportive partners, while thriving throughout their professional careers,” she says.

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Meanwhile, more companies are adding gender neutral paid parental leave benefits. The number of employers providing the benefit jumped 10 percentage points to 27% between 2016 and 2018, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management. Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Sweetgreen and the retail giant Target have all recently updated their policies.

While the number of companies offering paid parental leave is increasing, some dads still report facing discrimination at work for taking time off. Survey data from Unum indicates that 37% of new fathers feel there’s a stigma in their workplace around new parents taking time off, with 80% of them experiencing it firsthand.

“For HR, this means having an open dialogue within the workplace, encouraging managers to lead by example in taking parental leave and supporting new moms and dads in the development of their leave and return-to-work plans,” says Angel Bennett, director of the leave management center at Unum.

See also: Connecticut set to become seventh state to pass paid family leave

Twaronite acknowledges there may still be work to be done. To combat these issues, EY offers a program where certified coaches can help parents plan for transition needs before, during and after parental leave. More than 1,400 parents have participated in the program, and 22% are fathers. The company also sends emails to male employees reminding them to take their full leave.

The company also pays $25,000 per family to cover expenses related to infertility, surrogacy and adoption.

Twaronite says it’s important to offer a suite of family friendly benefits that are inclusive for all workers. “We have learned that succeeding professionally also means that personal success is part of the equation, and we have evolved our family friendly offerings to best meet the changing needs of our people both in and outside of the workplace,” she says.

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