I am writing this post to share how I was treated at work becoming a dad. Parental Leave for dads is a big issue for me. I know the rules around it are changing here in Canada which is a step in the right direction. You can read on the changes here through Global News and the current Canadian laws here.
I won’t speak about the changes to parental leave in this post. However I will talk about my experiences as a dad when my kids were born. Both my younger kids were born while I was working in Alberta’s oil patch.
Lets start with my younger daughter. We were living in Provost at the time. My wife was pregnant, my oldest daughter was 7 years old. I let my company know we were expecting, our due date, and I would like some time off. I could only use vacation time (2 weeks available) and it would be discussed when the time was near if I was able to use it.
Fast forward, my wife was close to her due date. I was told earlier no time off after birth but my company wanted change for me. I had worked it out with my supervisor that my 2 weeks vacation would be used right after birth. Also to get a bit of time leading up to that, I was told my family was being transferred to Medicine Hat.
Now the move was great news but packing was left to my pregnant wife. I still had to work, had to find a house in another city, do it all within 2 weeks. My wife was left to pack the entire house while I took care of the rest. The day came and off we went. Still no work truck for me down there as it was ‘held up.’ A big thank you to my supervisor at the time.
My daughter was born. I took my 2 weeks holidays. I went back to work after and I was put into training for a week. That way I could be home each night to help at home. Then back to work, back out-of-town.
Head office was pissed and I sure heard about it. Non stop calls asking why I wasn’t working yet. I was even swapped underneath a new field supervisor. That was the beginning of the end for me there. Hard to stay at a company when you have 2 kids at home and are being sent 14 hours away for work, weeks on end.
Fast forward again to my son’s birth. New company, same field of work, now living in Drayton Valley. I was told 2 weeks would be given to me right off the hop after saying we were expecting. Things were looking up this time. No need to find any work around to get time off.
I got the phone call while being 3 hours away in the bush that things were starting. Told my boss to expect a call at any point.
That night my wife woke me, it was time. Loaded up her and our kids in the van and off to Edmonton. 1.5 hour drive away. Called my boss who told me lock the truck up, computer in the house and we would talk soon.
In the hospital now, labour is in full force. My phone won’t stop ringing. I get told to go for a walk and answer it. On the line is my boss. He need the truck ASAP. I tell him my wife is in labour, I’m in Edmonton which he knew. Doesn’t matter so I call my landlord to let my swamper in the house. Call my swamper to say where everything is. Call my boss back letting him know what was done and back upstairs I went.
My son was born 5 minutes after entering the room. I almost missed his birth due to work. Next day I call my boss to tell him my son was born, and I will talk to him in 2 weeks. I was informed I was to be back at work in 2 days. Our conversation did not go well as I lost it on him.
2 days later my truck was back and I was heading to Slave Lake. He kept me out-of-town for the next week to prove a point. I was done by that point. Time to leave and start a new career. 2 months later we were living in Edmonton and I am happy to say, working at a company that puts family first.
Through both of my younger children’s births there was no parental leave allowed, at least that’s what I was told. Both times, company’s told me I would lose my job if time was taken off. One supervisor worked the system for me but the other made things much worse.
Dads get treated like this far to often. Countless men I have talked to over the years have had the same experiences. Company’s don’t tell us that the laws allow us to use parental leave. Dads get told to find a new career when wanting time off or questions are asked. The government and media paint the picture that moms only get access to maternity leave, no one else. You never hear that dads can access it. I even have read tons of mom bloggers writing how dads don’t care or want to be home. This has to change!
Dads want to be there but for the most part our hands are tied. Not all dads have been down my road but it does still happen, lots.
Change the stigma around dads taking time off. It needs to be shown we can access the benefit, not just moms. It took me up until 4 years ago to find out dads could take parental leave here in Canada. Company’s should let all parents know and add top ups were needed. More dads would use parental leave if we knew what was there.
Dads, please share your experiences with me. Lets start a conversation. In the end it’s up to us to start change, and that can begin once our stories are out there.