With four grown children and fifth child approaching her teenage years, Shawn found himself last year in an unexpected role for a man his age: The primary caretaker of a newborn child.
A 20-year Nestlé veteran, Shawn and his wife stepped back up to the parenting plate when one of their adult children faced unexpected issues days after giving birth. Utilizing Nestlé’s Parent Support Policy, Shawn took 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for his new grandson, Kaiden.
“If the Parent Support Policy hadn’t been available, I don’t know what we would have done,” says Shawn. “Kaiden would have had to enter foster care, or one of us would have had to quit our jobs.”
A self-described “old-fashioned kind of guy,” Shawn is nonetheless an unwitting member of a modern phenomenon: active male caretakers. Particularly as the number of dual-income households continues to rise, men are increasingly involved in childcare and housework — everything from diaper duty to bedtime stories and dinner prep. According to Pew Research Center data, mothers in 1965 spent roughly seven hours per week on household and childcare duties for every hour spent by fathers. By 2011, that ratio dropped to roughly two to one. During that same time frame, the number of hours each week that mothers spent on paid work nearly tripled.
Nestlé’s Parent Support Policy, a policy that provides 26 weeks of primary caregiver leave (including 14 weeks of paid leave), was designed to be compatible with evolving family roles and structures, from single-parent families to adoptive to two-dad households. Available to all of Nestlé U.S. employees who average 30 hours a week and have been with the company for at least six months, the policy is gender-neutral and open to any primary caretaker of a newborn child.
The policy launched in January 2016, and an analysis of the first year of data shows its impact. In the year following the launch of the Nestlé Parent Support Policy, Nestlé saw a 12 percent increase in the number of male employees taking parental leave (when compared to the year prior), and the total amount of time taken by men increased 43 percent.
Men earning hourly wages were among those who benefitted from the PSP the most. According to the first year’s data, hourly male employees were 40 percent more likely to take advantage of the PSP than men working salaried positions, which may reflect the limited options usually available to families where both parents are in hourly roles.
Of course, the benefits of paid family leave extend well beyond the employees themselves. Longer paternity leaves are associated with increased father engagement and bonding, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which contributes to higher cognitive test scores for children. Paternity leave can benefit mothers too, they report, by enabling women to increase their level of full-time work and potentially increase household income.
Randy Davis, a facility quality supervisor at Nestlé pizza production facility in Medford, Wisconsin, confirms the family-wide benefits of paid family leave. When he and his wife had their second child in 2016, Randy took six weeks of leave under the PSP.
“My wife loved my time off as much as I did,” says Randy. “Nearly every day I would take our 2½-year-old for a bike ride around the block. The rides were special time for my son and I and gave my wife time alone to bond with our new baby.”
For Randy, the time he took to be with his family gave him a special appreciation for the support Nestlé provides. “I’m a very proud father,” he says. “It made me happy to spend that time and take care of my family. A company that provides employees the flexibility to put family first is a company I want to work for.”