Business

By Dr. Elaine Heffner: Who Is The Primary Caregiver?

By Dr. Elaine Heffner 
Austin American-Statesman

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Dr. Elaine Heffner reports, caring for children remains a largely unsolved problem for families where both parents are employed out of the home. 

Austin American-Statesman

Over the years that women have fought to achieve equal opportunity to men in all realms of life, particularly the workplace, the issue of childcare has loomed large.

Women’s role in giving birth to and rearing children has been an obstacle to achieving both work opportunities and remuneration equal to men.

The struggle for equal rights has included advocating for universal government childcare and for the participation of men in the care of children. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg argued that women would not achieve equality in the workplace as long as men were discouraged from taking on caregiver roles.

A move in that direction may result from a settlement by JP Morgan Chase of a class action case initiated by a father who was denied the 16-week parental leave offered by the company on the grounds that he was not the primary caregiver. There have been other recent challenges to parental leave policies for new fathers at other companies but this would be the first to result from an action brought by employees.

The interesting thing about the Chase situation is that although appearing gender neutral on the surface, offering 16 weeks of paid leave to primary caregivers and two weeks to other caregivers, the actual company policy was to consider birth mothers as the primary caregivers. If the birth mother returned to work before the end of 16 weeks the father could use the balance of the time.

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