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31. Mandatory Paternity Leave: Improving Work-Life Balance

31. Mandatory Paternity Leave: Improving Work-Life Balance

Mandatory Paternity Leave

Around the world, traditional gendered roles at work and in the home have started to wither. More employers are encouraging women to return to work after childbirth and men to take on an equal share of childcare and housework by offering flexible schedules for new mothers and paternity leave for new fathers. However, according to a 2019 Japan Labor Issues study, as of 2016, only around 6% of eligible men have actually taken childcare leave. 

To encourage more fathers to take time off work for childcare, and to promote women’s career development, Recruit Communications (RCO) introduced a parental leave system in 2013, offering new fathers two days of paid leave. But after three years, only two men at RCO had participated. After thoroughly reviewing the system to find ways to increase participation, RCO introduced a more specific paid leave initiative called “paternity leave” in 2016. The paternity leave system required new fathers at RCO to take at least five days of paid leave during the first year of their child’s life. During that year, the fathers could take up to 15 more days of paid paternity leave. 

Since its launch, the new system has been met with much success. As of mid-2019, 100% of eligible employees have participated. Of the 64 men employed by RCO who became new fathers between 2016–2019, 56 have taken 10.8 days of parental leave on average, and eight have taken all 20 days. It is now common to see “pick up kids” on men’s calendars.

Having found success within RCO, the system was implemented in Recruit’s Media and Solutions SBU in 2018, with plans to expand to other SBUs and divisions in the near future. The paternity leave initiative, in conjunction with Recruit’s company-wide remote work initiative, has also improved employee satisfaction tremendously—in a 2018 internal survey, 68% responded “Yes” to the question “Can you balance work and life?” up from 37% in 2014.

Companies that encourage paternity leave not only give mothers a chance to return to work and advance their careers, but also give fathers a chance to spend quality time with their children. RCO stands firmly behind the initiative and is proud to contribute efforts that challenge outdated gender roles. RCO CEO Atsushi Shimizu spoke at a diversity event and appeared in the media to promote the system and describe its success. “Based on my own experience, it is essential for men to participate in family care to promote the success of women,” said Shimizu. “In order for that to happen, it must become commonplace for men to take childcare leave.”

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