Jenya Cassidy

    Is There Paternity Leave in Baseball?

    Posted May 17th, 2011 by

    I’m a baseball fan and a work/family advocate, so I loved the hoopla over the Texas Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis taking paternity leave to attend the birth of his daughter.

    High-profile fans denounced him in blogs and on the radio for “caring more about being a father than a starting pitcher.”

    Work/family advocates praised him for putting family first.

    For those of us working on expanding maternity and paternity leave rights in this country, events like these throw a welcome spotlight on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

    Colby Lewis is not the first major league player to miss a game to attend the birth of his child. But he is the first to take advantage of Major League Baseball’s new 72-hour paternity leave policy. Now, 72-hour leave might not sound overly-generous. But it is more paid paternity leave than most U.S. companies provide.

    Many new fathers would qualify for unpaid, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A California or New Jersey father might qualify to take paid leave. But we have no national law that guarantees fathers (or mothers) the right to take paid time off work to bond with a new child. This surprises many Americans when they hear it for the first time. In fact, we are one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have even a national policy to guarantee paid leave for new mothers.

    When it comes to fathers taking leave we have an additional, cultural hurdle. Studies show that even among American men who qualify to take leave, only a small percentage take the whole time. Not being able to afford it is one reason. But there is still less expectation that a man will prioritize family needs over work needs. Major League starting pitchers, like Colby Lewis, do make a lot of money and play a key role on the team. But they aren’t the only ones feeling pressure to take little or no time off for family needs.

    Since California passed Paid Family Leave, the number of fathers taking leave to bond with a new baby has steadily increased. We need a national policy shift. But before that happens, we will need a major culture shift with more fathers like Colby Lewis demanding the right to put family first. Together, we can make family leave as American as baseball.

    This blog comes from MomsRising.org and CustomFitWorkplace.org. Each week it presents innovative ideas at the Huffington Post to strengthen 21st Century American families through public policies, business and workplace practices, and cultural change.

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    3 Comments

    March 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm by Zauberer

    Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out much. I’m hoping to present something again and aid others like you helped me.

    [Reply]

    June 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm by john thames

    There should be no maternity or paternity leave. Employers have the right to run their businesses without unnecessary disruption. Baby making or playing with your kid on the company’s time is not a job function. It disrupts the operarion of the office and discriminates against the non-pregnant employees who must do the extra work.

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    May 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm by Christine @ quasiagitato

    Curious about the 72 hours…is that 72 hours out of his normal work schedule or a consecutive 72 hours from the moment his leave starts? I mean, if a game is around 4 hours long (I have NO IDEA if that is even in the ball park hahaha) 72 hours would mean he could miss quite a few games and would therefore seem generous(ish.) But I have a feeling it’s the other. Good for him, either way.

    [Reply]

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