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Gay dads get lowest parental leave of all couples, according to new study

In only 4 out of 34 countries did male same-sex couples get equal amounts of leave

2019-09-05

Words: Steve Brown

Gay dads get the lowest parental leave of all couples, according to new study.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Social Policy, looked at the length of maternity, paternity and shared parental leave in 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

In 33 countries – excluding the US which offers no paid leave for new parents – researchers found that same-sex female couples receive equal amounts of paid leave to mixed-sex couples.

Only in four did same-sex male couples get equal amounts of leave.

Mixed-sex couples receive between 13 to 184 weeks of paid leave. Same-sex female couples average out between 12 and 164 weeks.

Male same-sex parents’ entitlement varies from zero to 156 weeks – making them the lowest of the groups.

Study leader Elizabeth Wong, from the University of California in Los Angeles, said: “Many of the differences we found may be the indirect consequences of gender-restrictive language that assumes women are the primary caregivers and that every family has one mother and one father.

“These assumptions often undervalue the importance of fathers’ involvement. When they do, same-sex male couples and male partners of mothers are the most disadvantaged.”

Although the study didn’t find any legislation that prohibits same-sex couples from receiving paid parental leave but Ms Wong added that the way policies were worded stopped them claiming the payments.

She added: “Policymakers can explicitly guarantee inclusion and equality for same-sex couples by removing gender-restrictive language and providing equal paid leave opportunities for fathers and partners as provided to mothers.”