Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Parental Leave When You Have Twins

I have always found security and reassurance in a debate when I discover that my opponents are extremely illiterate. Use of "argument by Caps Lock" and excessive punctuation (i.e. !!?!!!???!) are also soothing.

So when I read this article about parents of twins who feel that they should each be able to take full, simultaneous, parental leave (with E.I. payments), I was gratified to see that most of the people opposed to their suit were incoherently angry.

Briefly, the law in Canada currently allows a total of 35 weeks of parental leave. This leave may be taken by either parent after the birth of a child. The leave may be split between the parents, but they may not take it concurrently. Traditionally, Mom stays home until she feels like going back to work, then Dad can take the rest of the leave if he wants.

What these parents are arguing is that the mother should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the first child and the father should be able to take 35 weeks of leave for the second. They argue that this is legitimate because leave time should be child-based, not pregnancy-based. Basically, if their children were born a year apart, they would get two slates of 35 weeks of leave. If the children are born a minute apart, 35 weeks of leave disappears.

On the other hand, they also argue that twins are more work and therefore two parents are initially required.

For entertainment you can read the comments attached to the article. Some people quietly agree. Some quietly find a middle ground. Some more people are angrily disagreeing. My favourite, now deleted, invited Mr. Martin to "keep his dick in his pants" if he didn't want to pay for his own children.

The article and the comments seem to be a mishmash of pedantic examinations of the wording of various Acts and insults. How is the law worded? Can they sue for discrimination? How will government employees interpret the wording?

This is missing the point. The point is that we as a society decided that a parent taking time off work is a good thing. Therefore we pledge to ensure that any parent taking time off work for a newborn will be protected from dismissal and somewhat financially assisted. The question in front of us is not whether the wording of the Act allows extra leave for twins. The question is not a matter of lawsuits and discrimination.

The question is: Do we as a society feel that we would all benefit from having parents take extra leave in the case of multiple births?

My suspicion is that the answer is very probably "yes" but that the additional parental leave would not be a full 35 weeks for a second parent. Twins are more work, yes, but they aren't twice the work. There's some overhead there. We'll probably find, very shortly, that the government institutes a 10 to 15 week "concurrent leave allowance" or some such thing, for the second parent, in the case of multiple births.

That would probably make everybody happy, except for the "argument by Caps Lock" people, whom we should ignore anyway.

Recommend this PostProgressive Bloggers


RP. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RP. said...

they aren't twice the work

Do you have twins? Do you have more than one child?

Greg said...

Yes. I have two children. They aren't twins. I have, however, seen people with twins. It is more work, no doubt.

RP. said...

I'm just thinking it's kind of hard to quantify the amount of work twins are, would I say they're twice the work? Certainly when they are babies, yes. Not that either my wife or I ever took advantage of any maternity benefits, just wasn't on the cards for us.

Greg said...

They're a lot more work.

But you only go shopping once and get twice as much stuff. You go to the doctor once and get two checkups. You take them both for a walk at the same time with a double stroller.

There is some overhead stuff you only have to do once. But if you don't get the sleep schedules aligned, you're not going to care much :-(.