Wall Street is offering the latest employee benefit, but it’s apparently the ‘kiss of death’ for the careers of bankers who use it

Traders and bankers aren't exactly jumping at the chance to take off all the paternity leave their companies offer.

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Traders and bankers aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to take off all the paternity leave their companies offer.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While the US is the only developed country in the world to lack a national maternity leave program, some companies are trying to be more accommodating for new parents. Top companies are starting to recognize that paid family leave can boost retention, attract new talent, and garner good press mentions.

Paid paternity leave, in particular, has increased. The average amount of paid time off for dads grew from four weeks in 2015 to 11 weeks last year among top companies. And companies who have paid leave for dads saw an uptick from 12% in 2014 to 29% this year.

But research suggests that, even when companies do offer paid time off for dads, it’s not always taken.

Among companies offering four weeks of paternity leave, just over half of men in a 2014 Boston College study took four or more weeks off. Nearly a quarter of men took one week or less off even if their company allowed for two weeks of paid leave.

The discrepancy between the paternity leave permitted by a company and what men there actually take is particularly clear in finance, according to an eFinancialCareers article by Beecher Tuttle.

Citigroup allows eight weeks of paid leave for a second parent, and any parent employed at Bank of America can take up to 16 weeks of paid time off.

But what happens when a Wall Street banker actually takes all that time off?

“It’s the kiss of death,” Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” told eFinancialCareers.

A half-dozen bankers, traders, and asset managers told eFinancialCareers about their meager time off when their wives had a child; most took just a couple days off. The one who took more than a couple days only did so because he was starting a new job soon after.

“People are paid a premium to work hard and make personal sacrifices,” Cohen said. “You won’t be perceived as disloyal, but others may begin to question your commitment.”

Ultimately, when fathers don’t take all of their unpaid time off, the burden of parenting falls on women. That’s clear on Wall Street too, Tuttle wrote.

Read the entire eFinancial Careers article here.