Recently the White House hosted a forum on working fathers. The event was notable for some of the guests that were present. Daniel Murphy, second baseman for the New York Mets, was invited to give testimony because of his experience with taking paternity leave after the birth of his son.
Murphy missed opening day in order to attend the birth of his son. Under the agreement between the MLB and the players’ union Murphy had three days of paid paternity leave. He opted to take two of those days and received criticism from fans and the media.
In the face of criticism Murphy offered a rousing defense of paternity leave for fathers. Murphy said “When [my son] Noah asks me one day, ‘What happened? What was it like when I was born?’ I could have answered, ‘Well, Stephen Strasburg hung me a breaking ball that day, son. I slammed it into the right field corner,” Murphy told the audience. But instead, he continued, he can tell his son, “I am the one who cut his umbilical cord.”
Currently employees who work for employers with 50 or more employees and have worked 1275 hours in the past 12 months are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. However, it is estimated that 40% of US workers are not eligible for FMLA leave. FMLA leave is also unpaid and many workers can not afford to forgo income in order to take time off.
There have been a number of attempts in congress to introduce bills establishing paid leave. H.R.1286 – Healthy Families Act and H.R.3712 – Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act of 2013 seek to establish paid time off to care for one’s own illness or the illness of a loved one. There is not much chance the Republicans in the House or Senate will allow bills like these to advance.
Paid sick leave laws have had more success at the state and local level. Rhode Island, California, and New Jersey have all passed paid time off laws. A number of other states are either actively considering bills that would establish paid sick leave or are studying the issue. Cities, Municipalities, and counties are also working to introduce paid time off laws.
Dan Murphy put the importance of fathers and the need for men to take paternity leave in the spotlight. Thankfully it appears as if most people support Murphy and fathers taking time off for the birth of a child. Establishing paid leave will help more men take paternity leave and be there for their wives and newborn children.
If you have had an issue with taking leave for a serious health condition call Atlanta Employment lawyer Ben Kandy.