Can Fathers Take Paid Paternity Leave in California?

Can Fathers Take Paid Paternity Leave in California?

In the state of California, fathers are entitled to take leave after the birth of their children. However, the type of leave they take – and how it all shakes out with their employers – depends on a few circumstances. This guide explains. 

Can Fathers Take Paid Paternity Leave in California?

Fathers are allowed to take paternity leave in California, and whether they’re paid depends on the employer and the Paid Family Leave program, or PFL. 

Paternity leave is the term that describes the time a new dad takes off work for birth, adoption or foster care of a child. Lots of fathers take paternity leave because it’s been proven to be good for kids and families – and both California and federal laws give many fathers the right to do so. 

Related: Can you sue your employer for firing you while pregnant?

How Long is Paternity Leave in California?

Paternity leave, under the California Family Rights Act, can last up to 12 weeks. A total of eight weeks are partially paid (the money comes from the Paid Family Leave program). However, the other four weeks may be unpaid unless the employer agrees to pay.

About the Paid Family Leave Program

The Paid Family Leave program, commonly called PFL, gives people benefit payments when they take time off work to bond with a new child. (PFL also provides benefits to those who have to care for seriously ill family members or participate in qualifying events because of a family member’s military deployment.)

PFL benefits last for up to eight weeks. Generally, recipients can expect to receive about 60 to 70 percent of the weekly wages they earned five to 18 months prior to the beginning of the claim. 

Related: How to take unpaid leave in California 

What Laws Give Fathers the Right to Paternity Leave?

Two laws – the California Family Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act – protect fathers’ rights to paternity leave. Because California’s law provides more protections for new fathers, it’s the one that courts defer to when dealing with cases in California. (In other states that provide fewer protections, federal laws prevail.)

Related: What is paid parental leave?

About the CFRA

The California Family Rights Act, commonly referred to as CFRA, applies to all private employers that have more than five employees. That means whether you’re working in a software development company, a fast-food restaurant or a thrift shop, if your employer has more than five employees (counting you!), you’re entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected CFRA leave as long as you:

  • Have worked with your employer for at least one year
  • Have worked 1,250 hours in the past year
  • Have a new child

You don’t have to take all your leave at one time. You can take it in two-week increments, but you have to take it all within a year of the child’s birth, adoption or start of foster care. You can, on two separate occasions within that year, take leave in smaller increments of time (so a week here and a week there are fine).

Related: Pregnancy discrimination laws in California 

What if You’re Not Eligible for CFRA Paternity Leave Immediately After Your Child is Born?

If you’ve worked for your employer for 11 months when your child is born, you don’t automatically qualify for CFRA. However, once you hit that 12-month mark, you do qualify. You can take your paternity leave after that time. You still only have until your baby’s first birthday to use it

Can Employers Deny You Paternity Leave?

If you qualify for paternity leave, your employer cannot prevent you from taking it. State law protects your right to paternity leave (specifically, the California Family Rights Act). Federal laws are also in place to protect fathers who take paternity leave, although California laws currently provide broader protections. 

Your employer can’t discriminate against you for taking paternity leave, either. In a legal sense, paternity leave discrimination would likely occur if a person was penalized or retaliated against for taking paternity leave or the person was discriminated against based on gender.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Paternity Leave Denial?

If your employer denied you paternity leave, or if it discriminated against you because you took paternity leave, we may be able to help you. Call our office at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below now to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney who can give you the legal advice you need.

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