When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took time off to care for his newborn daughter in 2015 – and again after the birth of his second daughter in 2017 – he became part of a wave of California men using paid family leave.
About 85,000 California men took paid family leave in California during the 2017 fiscal year, double the number that took paternity leave in 2009, according to the latest figures from the California Employment Development Department. The number of women taking paid maternity leave during that period increased by a modest 6 percent.
Under a long-standing California program, women can take up to 12 weeks of disability payments following a birth. After 2004, women and men could also take up to six weeks of paid family leave. The state pays for the benefits using worker State Disability Insurance (SDI) contributions. Workers can also pay into a voluntary plan; employers don’t pay.
California is one of only a handful of states offering paid family leave for men and women. Most states instead offer unpaid leave.
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Money from paid family leave can alleviate the pressure on men to continue working after a child is born to keep income flowing.
A decade ago, less than 25 percent of California family leave claims were filed by men; last year, that figure rose to nearly 40 percent.
Fathers sometimes take leave at the same time as the moms, but increasingly they take leave after mothers go back to work to extend the amount of time a newborn is home with a parent.