Paternity Leave for Fathers

We’ve come a long way from the idea that only the mothers need time off when a baby is born. Fathers want to care and love on their newborns as well. For this reason, fathers should have leave rights as well. Generally this is known as paternity leave for fathers. There are laws in place that allow fathers to take time off from their job to bond with their new child.

On this webpage, you’ll learn about the following topics regarding paternity leave for fathers in California:

  • California Paternity Leave Laws
  • Who is Eligible for Paternity Leave for Fathers?
  • Are Paternity Leaves Paid or Unpaid?
  • Will Taking a Paternity Leave Hurt Your Employment Status?
  • How Do Your Request a Paternity Leave?
  • What if Your Request for Paternity Leave is Denied?
  • How an Employment Lawyer Can Help You

California Paternity Leave for Fathers Law

Paternity leave laws allow fathers to take time off of work at the birth of their child, a new adoption or a newly placed foster child. The laws are in place to ensure that the fathers have a job to return to when they come back from paternity leave. There are several laws that cover paternity leave:

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Through this federal law, a worker is allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for varying reasons, including paternity leave to bond with a new child (birth or adopted). Unfortunately, only roughly 22% of new dads in the U.S. take advantage of this federal law because of the fact that it is unpaid. To learn more about this federal law, read our FMLA webpage.

California Family Rights Act (CFRA)[1] This state law is similar to FMLA, however it also allows fathers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for newly placed foster children, in addition to a new birth of a child or new adoption (within 1st year of the birth or placement). To learn more about this state law, read this page about the CFRA law webpage.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) – California is one of only a few states that offer paid paternity leave. In California, dads who take advantage of the paid paternity leave under this state law get 55% of their weekly wages for a period of up to six weeks total.

Who is Eligible for Paternity Leave?

Not all fathers are eligible for paternity leave, unfortunately. Employers that are not covered by FMLA or CFRA are not required to grant requests for paternity leave. Employers and employees that are covered by FMLA and CFRA meet the following requirements:

  • The employer employs a minimum of 50 people within a 75-mile radius of the employee’s worksite
  • The employee has worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months (part-time, temporarily, or full-time)
  • The employee has worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the paternity leave takes place

Some employers have their own policies for paternity leave. You should talk to your employer to see if they offer their own paternity leave guidelines and whether it is paid or unpaid.

Are Paternity Leaves Paid or Unpaid?

Paternity leave for fathers taken under FMLA and CFRA are unpaid. Employers are not required to pay for this time off, however they may offer alternatives, such as having the employee use up their vacation time or sick days before FMLA or CFRA leave kicks in. Paid Family Leave, on the other hand, provides pay for paternity leave. As mentioned previously, these new dads can receive 55% of their usual weekly wages when covered by PFL.

Will Taking a Paternity Leave Hurt Your Employment Status?

These leave laws protect an employee from losing their job due to being on paternity leave. FMLA law requires the employer to continue providing health insurance and any other benefits that you currently have as an employee of the company. It is illegal for an employer to be discriminating towards an employee who has taken paternity leave. That means that it would be illegal for the employer to fire, deny a promotion, decrease pay, or do other similar things because an employee took paternity leave.

FMLA and CFRA says that the employer must allow the employee to come back to his job, or to give him a job similar to the one he had before the leave (similar responsibilities and pay). However, if your position would have been eliminated, even without the paternity leave, the employer is not required to create a new position for you. If you believe that you’ve been discriminated against because of requesting or taking a paternity leave, talk to a leave lawyer as soon as possible.

PFL does not provide job protection like CFRA and FMLA.

What if Your Request for Paternity Leave is Denied?

If you qualify for paternity leave under FMLA or CFRA and have given proper notice to your employer, this usually isn’t an issue. However, not all employers comply with these leave laws and may need some reminding. Your first step should be to contact an experienced leave of absence lawyer.

If things cannot be worked out with your employer regarding granting your request for paternity leave, you may sue your employer. Nasty Gal, a clothing company based in California, was sued because they illegally fired 3 pregnant employees and a man who was set to take paternity leave. You can read about this lawsuit here. It is recommended that you consult with an employment lawyer first to make sure that you are qualified for paternity leave under either of these laws.

If you cannot find a lawyer quickly, you may file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Paternity leave for fathers should not be taken lightly.

How an Employment Lawyer Can Help You

If you’re uncertain about your qualifications for taking paternity leave under a job-protecting law or believe that you’ve been wrongfully denied a request for paternity leave, talk to leave lawyer. Taking time off without or with a cut in pay is already difficult, you shouldn’t have to suffer more for taking time off to bond with a child. We offer a free consultation to let you know if you have a case, just give us a call or fill out the form on the right, above.

To read about the laws for mothers, read our maternity leave webpage.

[1] California Family Rights Act (CFRA)