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Pro sports and paternity leave: MLB opens the door a little for dads

This is a follow-up to a two-part post we did last month on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

As we noted in our March 12 post, the FMLA grants certain rights to eligible employees to take (unpaid) time away from work to care for a newborn child or some other close family member.

Of course, in America’s competitive work culture, it can be difficult for employees to actually use the family leave they are entitled to.

As we will discuss in this post, however, even some of the most tradition-bound industries in the country are becoming more open to paternity leave.

The industry we are talking about is major league baseball. Of the four major professional team sports in the U.S. – football, baseball, basketball and hockey – major league baseball (MLB) is the only one to have a well established policy on paternity leaves for employees.

Of course, a player’s choice to take the leave is not always popular with fans. We need not look outside of New York for an example of this attitude from fans.

The Mets’ Daniel Murphy received plenty of flack from fans on talk radio for taking three days off from work to be with his wife and newborn child. He missed two games during that time.

Three days is allowed under MLB rules. Though fans were critical of Murphy’s decision, his teammates and coaches were supportive.

As another MLB player pointed out, paternity leave is a negotiated right.

In order words, when an MLB player takes two or three days to be with his family for the birth of a child, the right to do so is right there in the players’ collective bargaining agreement with the owners.

Source: Seattle PI, “Pro sports becoming more open to paternity leave,” Jon Krawczynski, April 14, 2014

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