2023 marks my sixth Father’s Day. Of course, I always spend the day doing something with my family. But I always carve out a bit of time to reflect on both my journey as a dad and where we are collective as modern-day dads. 

When I think back over the past 12 months, we’re starting to see more widespread and significant changes regarding dads at work. We know that the role of a dad has changed in recent years. We’re more engaged than ever, playing an active role in our children’s day-to-day care and researching the best baby buggies. We want to better shape our working patterns around being there for our children, whether doing their nighttime baths and reading bedtime stories, doing school runs, or watching their games after school. 

And yet the labor market hasn’t caught up with that shift.

There are already plenty of US-based giants with great paternity leave policies that go way beyond the US federal entitlement of 12 weeks unpaid. The likes of Google, Microsoft, Spotify, Uber, Deloitte, EY, and Pinterest all offer between 12 and 26 weeks of paid paternity leave, while Netflix rises above the rest to offer dads an entire year off at full pay.

In recent months, it feels like another major employer is giving new dads more time and better support every few weeks. As more and more private companies enhance their parental leave policies, momentum needs to (and will) shift toward government policy. 

Fitness mega-brand Gymshark brought in six weeks of paid leave for new dads, tripling the minimum standard of two weeks in the UK. Telecoms firm Vodafone introduced 16 weeks’ fully paid parental leave for all employees globally. Meanwhile, confectionary brand Mars introduced equal parental leave for dads in the UK, giving them up to 52 weeks, with 26 weeks paid at 90% of their salary. 

In the US, both parents are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, meaning most families can’t afford to take anywhere near that amount of time off. And just this week in the UK, the organization Pregnant Then Screwed launched a campaign to ask the UK government to increase statutory paternity leave from two weeks at low pay to a minimum of six weeks at 90% of their pay. 

Preparing for fatherhood

At DaddiLife, we believe that greater equality for dads in the workforce will help to close the gender pay and employment gaps we see in our societies. By allowing dads to be dads at work, we rebalance the typical gender roles: men are the breadwinner, and women are the caregivers. We see a future where it’s the norm for mums and dads to be equal caregivers to their children and breadwinners. 

Better paternity leave doesn’t just help close those gender pay and employment gaps, though. It allows dads-to-be to better prepare for fatherhood. Instead of stressing about how he and his partner will afford their mortgage, rent, or bills while the mother isn’t working, taking extra shifts, or even another job to earn more money, he can focus on preparing for this momentous shift in his life. 

Preparing for fatherhood isn’t just about decorating the baby’s room. It’s about discussing roles and responsibilities, spending time with your partner, understanding pregnancy and baby terms, thinking about the type of dad you want to be, getting as healthy as possible, and working on your mental health. It’s about the mental and emotional preparation for becoming a dad and the practical things like baby-proofing the house or picking the best Moses basket. 

The new horizon of fatherhood will see dads seen as equal parents in all walks of life. That horizon is coming slowly but surely. This Father’s Day, let’s celebrate our roles in our children’s lives and keep our eye on that horizon because it will not come on its own. If we want that future, we need to go and get it. v

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