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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

MLB Paternity Leave Update: Cleveland Indians Outfielder Nick Swisher

Cleveland Indians outfielder Nick Swisher and his wife welcomed their first child on Tuesday (and as Yahoo! Sports notes, knowing Swish’s fun-loving style, he’s probably REALLY REALLY REALLY excited). He returns from a three-day paternity leave tomorrow.

New dad, Indians OF Nick Swisher, returns from paternity leave today (he can hit a little, too!)

New dad, Indians OF Nick Swisher, returns from paternity leave tomorrow (he can hit a little, too!)

Indians first baseman Nick Swisher was placed on the paternity leave list Tuesday following the birth of his daughter. After getting a few days to spend with his family’s newest addition, he will return to the Tribe’s starting lineup on Friday night in Boston.

To my knowledge, Swisher is the third prominent MLB player this season to avail himself of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first formal policy among US major league sports (and yes, I’m even including hockey and MLS soccer).

When Brandon Moss of the Oakland A’s took paternity leave earlier this season, I commented on MLB’s policy:

It is only 72 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. Baseball’s policy, unique among major sports, represents a formal endorsement of the concept of paternity leave. Prior to this policy, players were often excused for a day or two by their teams- but it was totally at management’s discretion, and the team would have to play with the disadvantage of one fewer player on the roster until the new dad returned. Now, teams can call up a player from their minor league system to replace the new dad on the roster for the 2-3 games he misses and the team cannot deny up to a 72-hour leave.

I also recently applauded Yahoo’s newly announced paternity leave policy. In my opinion, the more visible examples we have of organizations supporting working dads, the better. Culture only changes slowly, over time, because of the accumulation of hundreds of small decisions. Both MLB’s and Yahoo’s represent small contributions to this culture change.

And change is desperately needed. According to Boston College’s Center for Work and Family’s study of working dads:

  1. Almost none take formal paternity leave

  2. 75% of men take one week or less of accumulated time off (sick, personal, vacation days) after the birth of a child

  3. 16% are unable to take any days off after the birth of a child

Considering that dads’ time with children benefits everyone- kids, moms, dads, families, society- we need more support for working dads. Thanks, MLB!

What do you think about MLB’s Paternity Leave Policy? Any paternity leave stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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