France has recently made the decision to double paid paternity leave for new fathers extended by 28 days from one week according to The Guardian. It has been made a mandatory order for all companies and any who don’t comply with face fines. Aligning with the legislation of surrounding European countries, France is taking a step forward toward economic rights for parents.
The decision goes beyond the simplicity of steadying the pay of a parent who deserves it. This move dissolves the stigma that women are to be at home and raise children by themselves while the “man of the house” goes to work and brings home the money. Women often struggle with securing paid maternity leave especially after birth when they must stay home to breastfeed and care for their babies. Not all companies are sympathetic toward women employees let alone ones who become pregnant.
Overseas, it seems they have been rolling the ball on fair pay for both parents. In the US, only about 60% of employees are eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act, states are more likely to pass their own family leave legislation and at most a parent can take up to 12 weeks off but they will not be paid for that time. That is about three months without the average biweekly paycheck.
President Emmanuel Macron put an emphasis on the importance of both parents, if present, being involved in taking care of their newborn instead of leaving the mother to do all the work. Fathers are mandated to take at least seven of the given days off. For mothers, eight weeks are mandatory to be taken of maternity leave.
The concern comes around single mothers and fathers. A move like France’s would benefit American parents who already struggle to make salaries especially with children. States like New Jersey and California made their own family leave laws including regarding pregnancy as a disability and require applicants to meet certain earnings in order to qualify.
France’s move also normalizes the single father and supports parents of same-sex couples. Some men are left to balance raising their kids as well as trying to provide for them. Also, many states in the US restrict same-sex couples from legally becoming parents to children. The barrier keeps them from being able to provide full economic stability to their household.
America still struggles with the stereotypes engraved into society dictating how family dynamics are supposed to work. Hopefully, France stands as an example taking another step toward gender equality.
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