New Zealand Law Society - Father's Day a timely reminder that workplace flexibility available to men too

Father's Day a timely reminder that workplace flexibility available to men too

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It’s Father’s Day this weekend (Sunday, 3 September) and the New Zealand Law Society is reminding law firms that workplace flexibility is also available to men.

18-weeks Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is a government funded entitlement paid to eligible mothers and other primary carers such as adoptive parents, Home for Life Parents, whāngai, grandparents with full-time care, and other permanent guardians.

The payments go towards loss of income when taking parental leave to care for a new born baby or a child under six years old.

A human rights and employment lawyer, Kathryn Dalziel, says essentially if ‘Dad’ is the primary care-giver, then he too is eligible for Paid Parental Leave.

Ms Dalziel who is a member of the Law Society’s Human Rights and Privacy Committee, says this is perhaps a fact often overlooked by society because the traditional ‘father’ is often perceived as the main household breadwinner.

“I think it is wrong to assume workplace flexibility is just for women.  Considering the rates of burnout in the legal profession which affects all genders. The fact is many men want to spend time with their families, and the new generation coming into the workforce who are demanding work-life balance means workplace flexibility is likely to become the norm in the future,” she says.

Ms Dalziel says when it comes to unconscious bias in the workplace, the focus and concern of it (unconscious bias) occurring is mostly directed at female employees.

“Yet all employers have to watch for unconscious bias, and that includes towards men who may need time with their children. In our business we have two women law firm partners so we have to be careful too,” she says.

She says workplace flexibility is a relatively ‘new kid on the block’, but then the dynamic of the modern family has changed which needs to be reflected by employers.

“I think that women have been accommodating this “career interruption” for longer than men so it may take a while for men to look at this option.

“However in time, it will become the norm for both men and women. I think it will challenge some people just as gender fluidity, and different forms of sexuality challenges people. That’ ok, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” she says.