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Do Companies Have to Offer Paternity Leave?

November 22, 2017 Family and Medical Leave Act Claims

What dad needs to know about their rights

According to a recent article in Esquire, many fathers find it difficult to cobble together paid and unpaid time off in order to devote time to their growing families after the arrival of a new baby.

That’s hardly a surprise when you consider there are no specific federal laws requiring employers to offer maternity leave, never mind paternity leave.

So what options do working dads have? And if men are entitled to paternity leave, what protection do they have if they face repercussions at work for taking time off?

Let’s discuss how paternity leave is handled under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

12 Weeks of Unpaid Leave—For Some Dads

Employers that are covered by the FMLA must allow eligible employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave after the birth of adoption of a child.

Companies are generally covered by the FMLA if they are:

  • A private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees who worked 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year
  • A public agency, including a local, state, or federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
  • A public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

Eligible employees include people who:

  • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave, and
  • Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

What Working Fathers Need to Know

Under the FMLA, fathers may take parental leave under the FMLA any time within the 12 months after the birth of a child, or after the placement of a child for adoption or foster care.

Some dads opt to take leave right away, while others prefer to hold off until the mother has exhausted her leave.

However, it’s important to note that if both parents work for the same company, the employer is only obligated to provide a total of 12 weeks of leave for both parents.

During leave, the employer must continue to provide benefits such as health insurance. When the father returns to work, he must be restored to the same position or one that is equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.

Protection from Retaliation

The FMLA protects all covered employees from being retaliated against for using their leave. That means fathers can’t be fired, harassed, or otherwise treated unlawfully because he opted to exercise his rights under the FMLA.

Retaliation may include things like:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Loss of perks or benefits
  • Denial of career-advancement opportunities
  • Change to a less-desirable schedule or work location, or
  • Any other action that negatively impacts the terms and conditions of employment.

Call Us for a Free Consultation

If you believe that you’ve been unfairly denied paternity leave, or that you’ve been retaliated against for using it, you should speak with an employment lawyer to find out more about your rights.

Email us at or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.