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Baseball's stance on paternity leave highlights larger issues

Major League Baseball player Daniel Murphy highlighted an important issue recently when he missed the first game of the 2014 season to be present for the birth of his son. Although no one should be shocked to hear of a father wanting to be there to see his child born, some might be surprised to learn that men often don’t enjoy the same benefits as women when it comes to taking leave upon the birth of a child. Furthermore, it represents an exception to the norm that Murphy was allowed to miss work.

Most everyone in Colorado and around the country has heard of or maybe even knows a woman who has taken paid maternity leave from work upon the birth of her child. Interestingly, though, paid maternity leave is guaranteed in all but four countries, one of which is the United States. However, many employers offer such benefits and taking time off from work is a common part of the birthing process for many women.

Murphy’s case however, represents a deviation from the norm as he was allowed to take three days of paid paternity leave under the specifications of a clause in Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement. Although MLB is the only of the major American professional sports to offer standardized benefits to its players, it is also one of few organizations in general, that allows male employees to take paternity leave.

This means that while women are often allowed time off to be with their new children, men are generally forced to figure out another plan to see their child, or are left with no other option than to simply show up for work or take vacation time.

The issue of paid paternity leave highlights the importance of the broader issue of men’s and father’s rights. All men should have the right to be the best fathers they can be. It is unfortunate that many employers make this difficult for them.

Source: WTOP, “Parenting: The pressing issue of paternity leave,” Randi Martin, Apr. 21, 2014

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