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Father sparks debate about paid parental leave in the US after filming emotional return to work

The Independent logo The Independent 28/06/2022 Amber Raiken
parents-return-work.png © gbandme/TikTok parents-return-work.png

A father has sparked a debate about paid paternity leave in the US, as he documented his emotional return to work, following the birth of his child.

On TikTok, Matthew, @gbandme, first rose to popularity when he shared videos of his grandmother, who passed away last January. Although he has continued to share memories of his grandmother on social media, Matthew has also begun documenting his life as a first-time parent, alongside his wife, Morgan.


In one clip shared in April, Matthew filmed Morgan holding their daughter, before acknowledging that he had reached the end of his paternity leave.

“Back to work. Love you,” he said to his wife, who said “goodbye” back to him, while looking down at her child.

He then zoomed in on his child’s face and said: “I love you, little chunk.”

Matthew went on to direct the camera towards Morgan, who began to tear up and told him not to “get her crying”.

“I love you, Mama,” he told his wife, as she continued crying. “It’ll be okay.”

As Morgan wiped her tears off her face, Matthew chuckled and said: “I love you, I’ll be back.”

The clip then concluded with Matthew sitting in his car as he looked off to the side and appeared to have tears in his eyes. He also noted how difficult it was for him to return to work in the caption, where he wrote: “Well this was tough…”

As of 27 June, the clip has more than 2.1m views, with TikTok users in the comments applauding the parents and acknowledging how difficult it is return to work when paternal leave ends.

“I remember the day my husband went back to work. Send her encouraging messages throughout the day and call her often,” one viewer said.

“I’m not crying! Aw, how sweet. I felt the same way with my hubby,” another wrote.

A third person added: “Been there but as a single mom having to leave the baby with a caregiver. Cried the whole day.”

Other people went on to criticise the United States for not giving new parents enough paid time off work after welcoming a child.

“Aww I remember how that feels,” one person wrote. “I wish we had better laws for parents to get to bond with their new babies. Paternity/maternity leave here is a joke.”

“FTM & have a three month old. America has failed parents with not providing paid parental leave. I feel you, you’ve got this!” another wrote.

According to the US Department of Labour, “The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) makes paid parental leave available to Federal employees”. Under FEPLA, parents get up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave within a “12-month period following the birth or placement” of a child.

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