Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC

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What paternity leave rights do new fathers have?

Our society places significant emphasis on the rights of working mothers when they give birth and seek maternity leave while maintaining their employment. However, working mothers can also benefit from the help of the child's father. Close collaboration when it comes to parenting can help the child greatly.  At the same time, it can also help both parents to share family responsibilities so that they can better manage their careers.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers around 50% of the national workforce and gives rights to employees who need to take time away from work for medical or family reasons.  Washington D.C., and some states (including Maryland) have their own FMLA laws that cover smaller employers who are exempt from the federal law.  These federal and state statutes usually require that the parent have worked for a number of months before they are eligible to take FMLA leave. 

What does the FMLA offer for new fathers?

Working fathers have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their child. Taking FMLA leave means that a person can take time away from work while enjoying legal protection from retaliation. This means that there should be no need for them to worry about being fired or demoted due to taking leave, although we still see employees who have been demoted, passed over for promotion, or terminated after taking FMLA leave.

The desire for change

In comparison with many European countries, the United States offers relatively little to working fathers who want to care for their newborn children, beyond unpaid leave. There is a rising demand for more paid maternity and paternity leave as well as action to stop the stigma associated with men who take parental leave.

If you want to help care for your newborn in the first months of their life, you should learn more about whether you are covered under the FMLA. You should also learn more about whether your employer offers a parental leave package that goes beyond the FMLA laws.

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Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC
1400 16th Street, NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202-745-1942
Fax: 202-745-2627
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