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Can you take FMLA for a child's birth if you're a dad?

Childrearing is not solely a woman's job. These days, parenting is a collaborative effort by two equal partners. Dads are just as involved and invested in their children's lives as moms.

Unfortunately, not every employer agrees. While many companies don't have a problem granting time off to a new mother, they may try to bar a new father from taking leave or convincing them not to take the full amount granted by law.

If this happens, dads should know their rights and exercise them if they want time to bond with a new child.

FMLA eligibility

Employers must allow employees to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if the following applies:

  • The employer is an elementary or secondary school, a government agency or a private employer with at least 50 employees
  • The employee has worked for the employer for at least 12 months, which do not have to be in a row (but generally, there should not be a period of more than seven years between service)
  • The employee has worked for the employer for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before the leave takes place
  • The employee works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius

FMLA leave is unpaid but employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks off without termination.

California paid leave

Additionally, California employees are also covered under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which also allows employees to take 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave while retaining employer-provided health benefits. There are differences in how FMLA and CFRA covers employees, but they are more relevant to birth mothers.

What if my employer fires or retaliates against me?

Discriminating against an employee for taking FMLA or CFRA leave is illegal, and employees have the right to take legal action against a company that tries to deny their rights.

An employer's personal opinion about whether a dad should take time off to care for a new child is irrelevant: If you want to spend time bonding with your child, as a new parent naturally would, you have every right to do so.

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