The founder and CEO of Toms Shoes, Blake Mycoskie, told his company that he was going to take 12 weeks off after the birth of his son.
Mycoskie said his paternity leave would serve two purposes: to spend time learning the ropes of being a new father caring for his newborn baby and to set an example for his employees.
“If a dad doesn’t take it or isn’t offered it, he’s tired. He’s distracted. He’s probably making bad decisions for the business, and he’s feeling guilty he’s not at home.”
Though Toms Shoes offers their workers who are new parents a minimum eight weeks paid time off, few take advantage of the benefit. The policy was enacted two years ago, but Mycoskie noticed that new fathers were nervous that leaving the company for any period of time would set them back in their careers.
Mycoskie believes it’s a disadvantage that the United States is the only developed country that fails to guarantee paid time off for new parents. He said:
“So much of our strength comes from our families, and if we’re not investing in our families, we’re not going to be strong in business or in culture.”
Providing benefits that include paternity leave can be advantageous to companies looking to attract top talent, especially if they are looking to hire millennials. Companies including Netflix, Adobe and General Electric have increased their benefits for new parents during the past year.
Federal law guarantees new parents 12 weeks time off, but that does not ensure that employers will offer pay during the time. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 12% of private sector workers in the United States are offered paid family leave.