In the state of California, paternity leave is a right under the law – but what are your rights, and what can you do if your employer denies them?
Here’s what you need to know:
- Paternity leave is generally available to biological, foster and adoptive fathers
- Fathers must meet certain requirements to take paternity leave
- Dads may be eligible to get up to 12 weeks off for paternity leave
- Typically, your employer must reinstate you (put you right back in your job position) after you take paternity leave
What is Paternity Leave in California?
Paternity leave is a type of leave from work that many new fathers are entitled to. Typically, biological, adoptive and foster dads are entitled to take this type of leave, which is similar to maternity leave that women are entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, women often take pregnancy disability leave – and men aren’t entitled to that.
This type of leave is designed to give dads time for childbirth and time for bonding. The most you’re entitled to is 12 weeks under California law.
What About Fostering and Adoption?
You don’t have to adopt or foster a newborn to qualify for paternity leave if you meet all the other requirements. In fact, the law doesn’t distinguish between ages at all for foster fathers and adoptive fathers.
Laws that Cover Paternity Leave in California
The Family and Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act and the New Parent Leave Act all protect dads’ rights to time off.
What Rights Do Men Have to Paternity Leave?
While men are often entitled to take leave under these laws, it doesn’t necessarily have to be paid – but sometimes, employees are entitled to pay or benefits.
When it comes to paternity leave, the situation must meet these requirements:
- The employee must have worked for more than 12 months for the employer before taking leave
- During that 12-month period, the employee who is taking leave must have worked at least 1,250 hours for that employer (working 40 hours per week, every week for an entire year gives you 2,080 hours)
- The employer must have at least 20 employees within 75 miles of the place the employee works
Typically, if these three requirements are satisfied, employers are likely to be required to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of family leave.
If you want to take paternity leave, you have to give your employer reasonable notice. Your notice should include when you expect to take leave, how long you’ll be out and an explanation of why you need to take the leave. (Pro tip: It’s a good idea to put your request in writing so you have a paper trail.)
It’s always best to talk about your paternity leave with your employer, especially if you encounter any issues. Sometimes employers misunderstand what employees are entitled to when it comes to this type of leave – and if you can’t resolve issues with your supervisor, you should go to your company’s Human Resources department with your concerns.
In most cases, your employer must reinstate you once you’re finished with your family leave. That means you’re probably entitled to the same or a comparable position. (Comparable means it has to be equivalent when it comes to pay, benefits and schedule, as well as a few other things). If you return to work and you’re no longer qualified for it because you missed training or other events while you were gone, your employer has to give you a reasonable opportunity to make up for it.
What if Your Employer Denies You Paternity Leave?
If your employer violates your rights when it comes to paternity leave, you have options. You could attempt to resolve things with your employer, bring an administrative claim, or file a lawsuit in court, and you may be entitled to damages. However, you must file your complaint within one year from the date that you allege your employer violated your rights.
Call us today at 818-617-9706 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 to discuss your case, before it’s too late.