The piecemeal structure of parental leave in U.S. has made it a challenge for many employees to take leave after the birth of child. There are forty per cent of workers who are not eligible for parental leave under FMLA. In 46 states, statutory paid leave is not available, especially to father. Survey shows that there is only 16 per cent of the workers who have access to the paid parental leave by their employer.
It is sad to note that there are even social and cultural barriers that are faced by the fathers in taking leave in addition to the lack of access to leave. For instance, there are organisations that are structured according to the ideal worker norm. This norm has the assumption that workers prioritize their work above all else. There are fatherhood norms also which basically puts emphasis on the role of father as economic providers. This is despite a rise in men expressing his interests to spend more time with his family. It is seen that these expectations benefit the to be father in the organisation. However, there is also chance that the men who has taken leave is stigmatised. It is not deniable that taking parental leave is related with negative consequences, for example, lower earnings and lower performance ratings for men (Adema et al., 2015).
Despite the barriers that are faced by the fathers, it is observed that many U.S. fathers take leave after the birth of child. However, the leaves taken by fathers are shorter than the leaves by mothers. The men who takes parental leave are considered as poor organisational citizens as well as not eligible for the rewards. The male leave requester suffers femininity stigma. The fathers who request for parental leave are considered to have lower masculine traits like ambitious and competitive. They were viewed as higher on feminine trails like weak and uncertain (Hass and Rostgaard, 2011).
A perception can be defined as the process of gaining information and then making sense of the world around. The environmental stimuli are basically felt, heard, seen, smell or tastes. Attitudes and behaviours are formed through the perceptual organisation and interpretation which is further formed by selective attention and emotional market response. The attitudes which are the judgements involves evaluations of an attitude object. They are stable in nature.
Stereotyping is also very common in the organisations. It is simply defined as assigning characteristics to people based on social category membership. This occurs due to categorical thinking. Through categorisation, homogenisation and differentiation, social identity and self enhancement can be reinforced. The basic problem is intentional discrimination and prejudice that mothers/ fathers experience while at the time of using their parental leave. It is undeniable that it is difficult to prevent stereotype activation. However, it is indeed possible to minimise stereotype application and the extent to which people rely on the information (Seward et al., 2006).
The theory of attribution tells the perceptual process of deciding whether an observed behaviour is due to internal or external factors. In this, fundamental attribution error is caused which is the tendency to look at the person rather than the situation as the major cause of the behaviour of the person.
The masculine norms constrain both the sexes. The stereotype that the men do not care is the major barrier to parental leave. (Salari and Filus, 2017).
It is essential that the organisation ensures that the employees are satisfied by their jobs. Every employee evaluates his or her job and work context. There are different types of responses if the employee is not satisfied. This is called EVLN: Exit, Voice, Loyalty, Neglect. The employee can leave the situation by quitting or transferring if he is dissatisfied. The employee could complain and ask for changing the situation. If the employee is loyal, he would wait for the situation to improve. He could also neglect the work by reducing his effort and increasing absenteeism.
It is observed that the happy workers are more productive than the dissatisfied workers. Service profit chain model shows that the profitability of a company is influenced by the job satisfaction of the employees. This is through customer loyalty, quality of service and related factors. Job satisfaction affects the mood of the employees and this leads to positive behaviour towards customers. It also reduces the turnover of employee and results in more familiar and consistent service (Seward et al., 2006).
Studies show that taking parental leave is associated with increase in father involvement. In U.S. there has been increase in the interest in parental leave. States have passed legislation to provide the family with paid leave. Most of the Americans are very supportive of the paid parental leave. It is also found that increase in the parental leave provides benefits to families.
It is not only U.S. but other OECD countries also guarantee to paid parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the only national leave policy in the U.S. that permits the employees who are meeting the eligibility criteria to take unpaid leaves of up to 12 weeks after the birth of child. There are four states of U.S. that provides paid leave to the family and new parents. Other three stated have decided to grant paid leave to the family in future.
The personal and economic well being of the families can be increased if there are appropriate progressive parental leave policies that ensure that the fathers have the support, they require to prioritize their responsibilities of family as well as meet the demands of work. Studies show that paternity leave can help in promoting the bond of parent and child and improves outcome for the child. The gender equity at home as well as at the workplace could be increased with this paternity leave. Paid parental leave provides a real advantage to working families. This should be offered to both father as well as mothers (Savitz, 2013).
There should be progressive policies that removes the social barrier that restricts the fathers from taking longer paternity leaves. The outdated workplace norms about male breadwinners should be abolished. The gaps in the policy should be filled along with the cultural and social biases. There should be advancement in the goal of gender equality of both the sexes. The male should also be offered paid leave as compared to women to encourage the men to perform more care work. There should be no discriminatory policies that supports only women. This would increase the organisational commitment of the workers and thus the job satisfaction.
According to Benn and Bolton (2011), corporate sustainability could be defined as the business approach which builds long term value for the company through incorporating economic, social and environmental dimensions into the core decisions of its business.
The success or failure of an organisation in terms of sustainability goals cannot be measured only based on profitability or losses. It is also measured in the terms of the well being of individuals and the health of every employees in an organisation.
The often-mentioned goal of business is sustainability. There are different measurement tools to measure the performance in corporate world. The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is an accounting framework that includes environmental and social dimensions that are beyond the measures of profit and return on investment. Triple Bottom Line (TBL) consists of economic, environmental and social value of an investment. TBL highlights that the responsibilities of a company do not lie with shareholders. It lies with stakeholders. Stakeholders are the ones who are affected by the actions of the company, such as, employees, suppliers, creditors, government. TPL would consider the social aspect, that is the parental leave should be given to both male and female with equal protection (Ray et al., 2010).
There are many factors that affects the thinking sustainably. The cultural factors include cultural differences and the level of development. The organisational factors include corporate culture and policies. The individual factors include leadership and vision and integrity regarding corporate social responsibility.
Empowering large number of fathers with paid parental leave could lead in achievement of their professional goals along with being supportive and nurturing fathers. The organisation should introduce best practices that support the increase in access and use of parental leave. This can be done by educating the employees and employers about the benefits of paternity leave. The leave programs should be structured in a manner that incentivise fathers to take leave and be more inclusive of all parents. The combination of better economic support and changing cultural norms would help the families to take advantage from parental leave.
Adema, W., Clarke, C., & Frey, V. (2015). Paid parental leave: Lessons from OECD countries and selected US states.
Haas, L., & Rostgaard, T. (2011). Fathers' rights to paid parental leave in the Nordic countries: consequences for the gendered division of leave. Community, Work & Family, 14(2), 177-195.
Ray, R., Gornick, J. C., & Schmitt, J. (2010). Who cares? Assessing generosity and gender equality in parental leave policy designs in 21 countries. Journal of European Social Policy, 20(3), 196-216.
Savitz, A. (2013). The triple bottom line: how today's best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success-and how you can too. John Wiley & Sons.
Seward, R. R., Yeatts, D. E., Amin, I., & Dewitt, A. (2006). Employment leave and fathers’ involvement with children: According to mothers and fathers. Men and Masculinities, 8(4), 405-427.
Salari, R., & Filus, A. (2017). Using the health belief model to explain mothers’ and fathers’ intention to participate in universal parenting programs. Prevention Science, 18(1), 83-94.
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