Paternity leave refers to the time an employee who is a new father takes off work for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of their biological, surrogate, or adoptive child. While maternity leave for pregnant employees is an important part of medical and family leave, a father’s rights are also important. Be sure you know paternity leave laws in California.
Laws for Paternity Leave
In California, many fathers have the right under state and federal law to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid paternity leave, which is protected for most workers.
Paternity leave is a form of family leave often in connection with maternity leave and pregnancy disability leave. This leave is for childbirth, and bonding time with a newborn, adopted child, or foster child. The same leave can be used to deal with a serious medical condition or care for a family member with a condition.
These 12 weeks of leave are provided by:
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal statute that provides protected leave to care for children or sick family members.
- The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is the state statute that specifically provides new fathers with up to 12 weeks of parental leave.
If you are eligible for both types of leave, you only receive 12 total work weeks a year of leave.
Paid Family Leave
In some circumstances, employees may be eligible for paid family leave. Federal employees receive 12 weeks of paid time off when welcoming a new child. Other employees may qualify for paid time under other programs.
California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) can allow you up to eight weeks off of work paid leave. To be eligible for PFL, you must have paid into State Disability Insurance in the past 5-18 months, not taken the maximum eight weeks off PFL in the last 12 months, and brought a child into your family through birth. You could receive paternity benefits through the PFL if you qualify.
You can also use vacation pay, sick leave pay, or other forms of paid time off to receive employer payment during paternity leave.
Eligibility for Paternity Leave
Your eligibility for paternity leave under the CFRA is as follows:
- You are employed by an employer with at least five employees.
- You have been employed with your employer for at least a year before the start date of your paternity leave.
- You must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the prior 12 months of employment, which means you are not a part-time employee.
You aren’t required to take all your 12 weeks off at the same time, but you must take all 12 weeks within a year of when you welcomed your new child into your family. You can choose which times you want to take off work, but your employer may require you to take time off work in two-week segments.
Job Protection for Paternity Leave
Most California employees are guaranteed the right to get their job back once they’ve completed paternity leave. This may be the same job or a similar one. Your employer may have needed to fill your position while you were gone, but you are entitled to a similar position. Similar jobs must have comparable pay and benefits, a similar schedule, location, and working conditions, and also cover similar responsibilities.
Employer Violations of Paternity Leave Rights
Under state and federal law, qualifying employees are entitled to paternity leave. If an employer refuses your leave, retaliates against you for requesting or taking leave, or fails to reinstate you in the same or similar job you had prior to your leave, this is illegal. You should file a complaint with California’s Civil Rights Department, which will then either file a claim against your employer or send you a Right to Sue notice. At that point, you can file a claim yourself with the help of an employment attorney.
Q: What Are the Requirements for Paternity Leave in CA?
A: To be eligible for paternity leave under the California Family Rights Act, a new father must welcome a biological child, surrogate child, or newly adopted foster child to the family. The father must also have a covered employer or an employer with at least five employees. They must also have been employed with this employer for the last year and worked at least 1,250 hours in that time. If a father meets these eligibility requirements, they can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Q: How Long Can a Father Take Paternity Leave in CA?
A: A new father can take up to 12 weeks of paternity each year in California. The purpose of paternity leave is to allow fathers to help their partners through childbirth and bond with a new child. This child can be biological, adopted, or a foster child. This leave is unpaid unless the father qualifies for California’s Paid Family Leave.
Q: What Is the Maximum Benefit for CA Paternity Leave in 2023?
A: Paternity leave under the California Rights Act is unpaid. If a father qualifies for California’s Paid Family Leave, they may receive benefits for up to eight weeks. Payments are 60-70% of the father’s weekly wages over the last 5-18 months. PFL provides benefits but not job protection, but an employee may receive job protection under CRA or the federal FMLA.
Q: Can My Employer Refuse My Paternity Leave?
A: The CRA provides new fathers paternity leave, and employers are not allowed to deny this leave. If a father is eligible for paternity leave under either the CRA or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they have a legal right to time off and job protection for up to 12 weeks.
Protect Your Rights
If your employer is retaliating against you for taking paternity leave, you have the right to file a claim for damages. New fathers deserve time with their children, and you shouldn’t have to deal with illegal actions by your employer during this time of joy. Contact the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams for paternity leave questions and to protect your employee rights.