Prince William will be taking two weeks off from his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot to care for his soon-to-be born royal baby boy. The Duke of Cambridge’s paternity is a royal first, although some experts believe new dads should get more time off.
The Associated Press reports Prince William has been granted a two week leave from the Royal Air Force in order to be with his son. Paternity leave was approved as British law in 2003, and William will be paid his full military salary during his leave. Men are allowed paternity leave for two weeks with a flat weekly salary of 137 pounds, $206, AP notes, but the weekly rate could be higher depending on the employer.
With the royal baby due date approaching, many are applauding William’s modern approach to parenthood. As AP notes, the prince is the first senior royal to take paternity leave and follows in his father Prince Charles' footsteps when it comes to parenthood. William and Prince Harry were both delivered in hospitals, whereas previous royal births were performed at a palace.
While British law grants paternity leave, experts believe there are still many challenges facing new fathers from taking advantage of the time off. There is the still the belief held by men that they are responsible for the family’s income, which prevents them from taking the time off and lose their full salary. Other men do take paternity leave, AP notes, but usually go back to work before two weeks. Other men opt from taking paternity leave, because it does not make sense economically while others do not qualify since they have not been at their current place of employment for six months.
In the UK, more men may follow William’s lead and take paternity leave over time, but that is unlikely in the United States. As of 2013, there is no federally mandated parental leave, maternity or paternity, and only a few states, California and New Jersey, offer paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 grants 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave for qualified employees.