The Los Angeles Dodger began the 2014 season on paternity leave, making use of MLB’s forward-thinking policy. Scott Behson sees this as yet another reason to celebrate the beginning of a new baseball season.
The baseball season started a bit early this year, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia over the weekend, a full week before traditional opening day.
However, Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford’s wife was expecting, and so he stayed home in the States to be with her, the first player of the 2014 season to avail himself of MLB’s paternity leave policy.
Last season, I highlighted several players who took paternity leave (see prior articles here), Here’s a quick summary of the policy:
It is only 72 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. Baseball’s policy, unique among major sports, represents a formal endorsement of the concept of paternity leave.
Prior to this policy, players were often excused for a day or two by their teams- but it was totally at management’s discretion, and the team would have to play with the disadvantage of one fewer player on the roster until the new dad returned.
Now, teams can call up a player from their minor league system to replace the new dad on the roster for the 2-3 games he misses and the team cannot deny up to a 72-hour leave.
It is refreshing to see progressive family leave policies in the particularly macho and win-at-all-costs alpha male culture of US Major League Sports.
Last season, I interviewed MLB executive Paul Mifsud about the paternity leave policy. I was pleased to hear that the league, teams, and players association all approved the policy without much debate and that the policy has been universally embraced. In MLB’s view, paternity leave is a common-sense solution because fatherhood is important and it is important to assist valued employees for family reasons. In our interview, Mifsud encapsulated this perfectly:
In such a long season, there’s more of a need for moments of accommodation for appropriate reasons.
Indeed, baseball is a long 7-month season of six games a week. But most of us work even longer 12-month seasons. Thankfully, progressive employers are beginning to see the light and the critical issue of paternity leave has received extensive attention here and elsewhere in the media. I am heartened by this progress.
Progress is still desperately needed. According to Boston College’s Center for Work and Family’s study of working dads:
- Almost none take formal paternity leave
- 75% of men take one week or less of accumulated time off (sick, personal, vacation days) after the birth of a child
- 16% are unable to take any days off after the birth of a child
Considering that dads’ time with children benefits everyone—kids, moms, dads, families, society—we need more support for working dads. Thanks, MLB!
A version of this post originally appeared at Fathers, Work and Family, A Blog Dedicated to Supporting Work-Family Balance for Fathers.