U.S. Trails Rest of World in Perks

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If you want to spend ample time with the bambinos when they first enter the world but don't happen to work for a company with generous paid paternity benefits, your options include moving to California or becoming an expatriate in Sweden.

After all, the touted Family Medical Leave Act might let you take 12 weeks off without the risk of losing your job, but there's a chance you might sometimes have to choose between groceries and the mortgage during the unpaid time.

California is the first state to give dads "paid family leave," making it possible to take up to six weeks off without irreparable financial harm. The program replaced 55% of wages up to $840 a week in 2006.

Although the FMLA gives fathers the right to take time off, few employers nationwide offer paid paternity leave -- less than 14%, compared with 46% for women, according to a 2005 study by the Families & Work Institute.

When it comes to paternity leave, the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world, considering that 66 countries guarantee paid paternity leave, according to a study by Jody Heymann, director of the McGill Institute for Health & Social Policy. The study found 31 of these countries, including the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland and Sweden, offer 14 or more weeks of paid leave.

Although Ms. Heymann commended the programs offered by many businesses in the ad industry, she added: "Four weeks of paternity leave compared with global standards is not that much."

Return to "Paternity Perk Often Surprise for Dads".
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