My wife and I are expecting our first baby in August. (It’s a girl!) The company where I work allows new dads two weeks off with pay for a new arrival. (This is on top of anything that might be required for health reasons by the various family leave laws). I was planning to take the two weeks off to enjoy our new family status – until one of my peers told me that “none of the guys” take this leave. He told me that anyone who takes it is labeled by managers as a “slacker and a wimp”. Now I am not so sure if I should take the leave. I am on track for some promotions and do not want to damage my career path. What would Evil Skippy do – take the leave or take a pass and keep working?
— Dad 2 B
Dear Dad 2 B:
First things first. Catch up on sleep while you can. You won’t be getting much from August through some time in 2015. Next, I’d take the leave even though I am not a wimp. I am also not a slacker. It takes a lot of effort to avoid work as much as I do.
Last but not least, I would figure out who to slap – either my jerk of a peer who made up stuff about “no one” using this benefit or the management team for offering a benefit on paper that you are not supposed to actually utilize.
— Evil Skippy
Talk to your direct supervisor. Tell him or her that you heard a rumor about “no one” using the leave benefit. Do some marketing for yourself and emphasize that you are interested in moving up and working hard – but do not want to suffer by taking the two weeks off. Ask if there really is an unwritten rule that says you really should not take the leave. Depending on your boss’s reaction, you should have a good indication about whether or not your colleague gave you good information.
Let’s hope you get a green light for taking the leave.
If you discover that your co-worker was right, however, it is time for some soul searching. Do you really want to work with an organization that gets mileage from its official benefits package but does not expect its workers to actually enjoy those benefits? That is a form of lying in my book and I would not want to be associated with them. I would plan my escape and, without rushing into some place worse, develop a future job search strategy.
Here is the bottom line. You are going to work for many more years unless the lottery works out for you. (Me first on the lottery!) This means you will have many, many more weeks on the job during your lifetime. You will never again have your first two weeks with your baby daughter. Some of the best memories I have are from times with my two amazing daughters and, based on your letter, I have a feeling you are also going to be the type of dad who really enjoys parenthood.
Take the leave, but be sure that you have left your projects in such amazing condition that your peers and managers are impressed by your organization and planning. Keep doing your best work when you return and demonstrate to your company that they can depend on you.
Now, get some sleep.
Readers — what would you do?