MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Reginald Lowery treasures time with his three daughters. He knows these moments won’t last forever.
When they were younger, he didn’t get time like this. Work kept him busy, even when they were first born.
“I didn’t get off when they were born. That day she had them, I was there that day, but that next day I had to go right back to work. So it wasn’t a special privilege,” Lowery said. “Don’t too many jobs, a lot of them don’t think the man’s roles is too important, but like I say, when you are rearing your children, it’s best to keep it even. It’s very important that the man play a vital role. ”
It’s something more dads are starting to realize and push for, time with their family.
“Dads should be involved as much as possible and have as much time as moms do,” Andy Galloway, a father, said. “I am glad people are starting to step up and speak out about it. It’s been a long time coming. ”
They are letting employers know it’s top-of-the-list important.
“Since the recession, I think a lot of men have re-evaluated what’s important in their lives,” attorney Alan Crone said.
He practices employment law and said businesses are beginning to realize dads, just like moms, want time off to devote to their family.
“Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are taking the leave, sometimes you can be perceived as not as serious about your job or not as hard-working or competitive,” Crone said. “That’s also illegal if the employer is retaliating against the employee for taking the medical leave.”
It’s becoming a sticky issue in corporations across the country.
CNN settled an EEOC claim that its parental leave policy discriminated against fathers, giving moms up to 10 weeks of time off for a new baby but offering fathers only two weeks.
Other lawsuits against other businesses have claimed companies promote a macho culture, where men turn over family responsibilities to women.
Attorney James Becker counsels businesses on the Family Medical Leave Act, which by law allows both men and women the same amount of time off for family matters.
“If a female is eligible for that leave and a male meets the same eligibility requirements, he is entitled to the same type of leave,” Becker said.
It’s up to individual companies to decide if that time is paid or not and to set the tone for what is condoned. He said it’s good business to find a balance.
“Employees are having more flexibility, more opportunities. If you have a good employee, you want to keep him,” Becker said.
Societal customs of men’s and women’s roles appear to be changing.
“It would have been unheard of for a father in the 1960s to take 12 weeks off and be with a newborn,” Crone said. “I think that’s a progression that is positive that more and more men are thinking that way.”
Some tech companies have taken the lead on this issue.
Amazon recently expanded its paid maternity leave to up to 20 weeks for birth moms and added six weeks of paid leave for new parents regardless of gender.