Updated: Jun 9, 2021
I'm so happy you're here trying to educate yourself on your rights. We need you! Seriously, we do.
I am not going to sugarcoat it. It may be difficult for you to assert your paternity leave. I know that the law is on your side if you work in California for an employer with 5 or more employees. But you still have to push back against the social stigma on dads taking leave.
The movement for dads' rights is still in its infancy. There are still employers who think dads taking leave means they're just gone fishin' while their wife is home with the baby. They don't understand mamas and babies need papa to be home to take care of them.
Alright papa, are you ready? Here's your rights:
First of all, you are not entitled to disability leave. I know it's stressful to care for a pregnant woman demanding cookies at 3am, but your stress of dealing with your pregnant wife is not a disability. Only moms can receive disability leave but you are entitled to bonding leave if you meet the eligibility requirements:
Do you work for a California company with 5 or more employees?
Your Right to 12 Weeks of Bonding Leave
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
First, a math test. To be eligible for bonding leave, you need to say yes to the following three questions:
Do you work for a company with 5 or more employees within 75 miles ?
Have you worked for this company for at least one year as of the start date of your leave?
Have you worked for more than 1250 hours (about 24 hrs/week) as of the start date of your leave?
If you answered yes to all three, you can take 12 weeks of bonding leave within one year after birth of your child.
Additional guidelines on bonding leave:
You can take the leave in two week increments/ twice in increments of less than two weeks.
Your employer does not need to pay you while you are on leave, but you are able to offset some of your financial loss through state benefits.
Your employer does need to keep you on the health plan.
Your employer may not deny your bonding leave because of it would be a hardship on the business. Your employer may not restructure your job or force you to take a modified schedule in lieu of your leave.
If your baby or baby mama has a serious health condition, you may be entitled to additional leave. This is a complicated area of law so you should consult with an attorney.
Do you work for a California company with less than 5 employees?
You don't have any rights to paternity leave. I know. This is awful. There are a few exceptions under local ordinances. You can also use your sick days for the birth and care of your child. You should get at least three days of paid sick leave in a year. Even if you're not entitled to paternity leave, still try to get some time off. You can explain that it will make the company attract talent because they will be known as a goodhearted employer supportive of families.
I know that taking your paternity leave is difficult. Your boss may make snarky comments like "back in the day I came back to work the day after my first born's birth." This is more about them than you. They obviously are still holding on to that and they want everyone to suffer like they did. Times are different now but it's still hard for dads to take leave. Even my own husband who was working as an HR Director and was married to an employment lawyer did not take his full paternity leave. Read about why we need you to take leave here.
I am 100% sure that a lot of fathers don't even know about their right to paternity leave. To the contrary, I've talked to many dads who had no idea they were allowed to take time off. Please tell your brothers, your friends, and your sons. Share this article. Let's start a movement for dads' rights.
DISCLAIMER - This blog is for educational purposes and to give general information and a general understanding of the laws relating to California employment law. It is not intended to provide specific legal advice, nor should you use it for that purpose. By using this blog you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Mamattorney or Gruenberg Law and you should not use this blog as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. We don't know anything about your particular situation, and the law has many exceptions. If you have a dispute with your employer, you need to consult with an employment lawyer.