What do you want to hear first -- the good news or the bad news?
First the good news. The Miami Herald polled local CEOs about their support of paternity leave. Most say they support it.
Here's what they had to say.....
The question: Should male employees be given the option of taking paternity leave? Does your company offer it?
Yes, they should but only for one week to support the childbearing wife. Our company does offer it.
Daniel Ades, managing partner, Kawa Capital Management
Yes. It’s a win-win when companies support employees through life issues large and small. rbb’s employee-driven workplace believes in allowing time off for both men and women.
Christine Barney, CEO, RBB Communications
Male employees should definitely have the option of taking paternity leave even if it’s only for a couple of days. When returning home after giving birth, mom needs help with the new baby and most importantly being home will allow the father to bond with the new baby in this very happy emotional time especially if it’s the first one when you go from being a couple to being a family.
Richard Behar, Founder and CEO, Capitol Clothing Corp.
Yes, only when mothers with medical reasons are not able to take care of their baby. My company offers paternity leave.
Carmen Castillo, president and CEO, SDI International
I think that on a case-by-case, male employees should be given the opportunity for paternity leave. Each family’s needs are different, and it may be that while the mother is carrying the child, the father will be the providing the primary care. It is important to maintain an open mind for the benefit of the family and the employer and do what makes the most sense.
Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, managing partner, Cervera Real Estate
Yes, of course; men are needed at home just as moms are at the start of a child’s life. We do offer it to our staff.
Pandwe Gibson, executive director, EcoTech Visions
Giving birth is an extraordinary physical and emotional experience for a woman. Maternity leave is necessary to enable women to absorb this experience while bonding with their child. I don’t think such leave is necessary for men.
Julie Grimes, managing partner, Hilton Bentley Hotel
YES and YES. Parental leave is a critical need and benefit that is offered in every industrialized country EXCEPT the U.S. We need to support programs that support families and children to create a better society for all. My Canadian nephews all took 6 months off, of the one year that Canada offers for maternity leave, to bond with their babies and claim that it was the best experience of their lives. My son works for the Department of the Navy so he also took paternity leave and LOVED it! He needed it because he had premature twins that required weeks at the hospital and at home before he could leave his family with any confidence.
Ann Machado, founder and president, Creative Staffing
No — and we don’t offer it. However, we are sympathetic to fathers of newborns and are very flexible with their schedules wherever possible.
Victor Mendelson, co-president, HEICO
Yes, as a father of two young boys, I think time off for both parents is important. We do not have a formal policy in place for paternity, but we are flexible with our new parents to work within their needs.
Nitin Motwani, managing principal, Miami Worldcenter Associates
In short, yes. At this point, we don’t offer paternity leave, but we do consider it on a case-by-case basis. We review our benefits annually and make adjustments as needed and upon request by the staff. It’s a system that works well for our restaurant and our large employee base.
Abe Ng, founder and CEO of Sushi Maki
We believe in policies that attract the best and the brightest. As a first-time parent to a 13-month-old, the difficulties that all parents face are very real to me. From a business perspective, we are always willing to work with people when they are a productive member of our community.
Todd Oretsky, co-founder, Pipeline Brickell
Yes, male employees deserve to have the time to care for a newborn or adopted child and foster that special bond that is so important in the life of a child and parent. At Miami Dade College, we offer leave (vacation, sick time and/or FMLA) to all eligible employees, and male as well as female employees may take the time to care for a child whether it is due to birth, adoption or medical issue.
Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade College
Male employees should be afforded paternity time, though I think it’s at every business’ discretion to determine the appropriate leave length and compensation arrangements. Since my company is still small, we don’t have a formal policy regarding paternity leave, but we pride ourselves on being flexible about all employees’ family obligations and concerns.
Joanna Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, EarlyShares
Yes, men should have some time to bond with and assist with the family’s newest blessing. We do allow for the time, but we do not entitle it “paternity leave.”
Darryl K. Sharpton, president and CEO, The Sharpton Group
The birth of a child and the adoption of a child are transformative moments for any family and for all parents. Akerman offers our male and female lawyers paid parental leave following the birth of a child. Lawyers serving as primary care-givers are provided paid leave following the placement of a child through legal adoption.
Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO, Akerman LLP
Family friendly policies are important for both men and women. Paternity leave is common in countries where there is a much higher level of taxation — and corresponding social benefits. We don’t have paternity or specific maternity leave; in general, staff take vacation time.
Gillian Thomas, president and CEO, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science
I believe that family, in whatever form, is very important and it’s critical parents have the opportunity to make a positive impact on his/her child. When parents are in a child’s life from the very beginning, great things happen for the family, the workplace(s) and the community: a. The child grows up feeling valued and loved; b. The workplace(s) builds a culture where family is valued; c. Not only do both parents share in the household responsibilities, but both parents take time from work, which can help with equality in the workplace; d. Feeding South Florida does allow fathers to take paternity leave.
Paco Velez, CEO, Feeding South Florida
Yes, I believe male employees should be given that option and we do offer Child Care Leave for both men and women. Even more important than offering it, companies should strive to create a culture that encourages men to take advantage of that leave. Enabling fathers to take time to bond with and care for their new child benefits not only the home and family, but also the future of the mother’s career if she chooses to have one outside of the home.
Alina Villasante, founder, Peace Love World clothing
There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but I personally do not think male employees need a paternity leave option. Therefore, it is not something we offer.
Marlon Williams, founder and CEO, Fenero
Yes, male employees should have the option. Our company is pretty progressive when it comes to family leave. We offer paid maternity/paternity leave to our employees as needed. Many of our male employees, including myself, have young children and wives who work outside of the home, so we understand the importance of having such an option available to us.
John Wood, president, Amicon Construction
Now the bad news....
Research shows only 13% of employers offer paid paternity leave, and most men don't take paternity leave even when offered. New fathers give reasons that include stigma, guilt and fear of reprisal.
While it's great paternity leave is a topic of conversation, let's hope we see some significant changes in corporate policies and real life practices.
When dads bond with babies, it helps men feel like they are part of the team. Teamwork makes work life balance better for mom and dad.
What are your thoughts on paternity leave? While the Miami CEOs say they support it, few have policies that directly address it. Is that okay? Do we need formal policies?