Parental leave is an employee benefit which allows mothers and fathers to take time off work when they have a newborn child in order to care for them. The term includes maternity leave (for mothers) and paternity leave (for fathers).
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PARENTAL LEAVE
Parental leave can be either paid or unpaid. Unpaid parental leave means that when an employee becomes a new parent, their employer is required to hold their job while they take time off to care for the child. Paid parental leave provides an employee with income during their time off – this is paid by either the employer, the government, or both.
BENEFITS TO PARENTS
One of the benefits of parental leave is that it helps new parents bond with their children and provide better care for them. Mothers who are expecting to give birth or have given birth recently need a minimum 12 weeks of maternity leave to recover and to nurse their children. New mothers benefit from the protection that maternity leave gives them in the workplace – if they know that they will be able to return to work after having children, they will be more likely to stay in employment and take an active role in the workforce. They will also be able to take better care of their children, and will not have to worry about income as much (if they receive paid maternity leave).
There are also many benefits of parental leave for new fathers. Having the option of paternity leave means that new fathers can spend more time bonding with their children and adjusting to their role as a parent. Paternity leave also encourages a more equal sharing of parental duties within the family, as men will be able to help look after the newborn while the mother is still recovering from childbirth.
BENEFITS TO THE CHILD
When a child is born, they need to be nursed and looked after all the time. This means that it is important for at least one parent to have time off work to make sure that the baby is fed regularly and cared for. Although mothers usually take time off work after the child is born, new research has shown that paternity leave can also benefit children. Studies have found that when a new father takes paternity leave, their child is more likely to perform well in school. This is particularly the case in families where the father has received a better education than the mother.