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Much attention is directed toward the time a new mother can take off work to bond with her child, care for the newborn, breastfeed, and more. However, what about fathers? Fathers also want time at home with their new addition to the family to bond and help out with care. How does this work when it comes to paternity leave from their employment?

The following are some brief answers to common questions regarding California paternity leave. For specific questions or concerns, reach out to a California employment attorney today.

What Does Paternity Leave Mean?

Paternity leave” is a form of family leave, such as maternity leave. It refers to the period of time that new fathers take off of work in order to provide childcare for a new child if they meet the requirements established by state and federal laws.

The requirements for eligibility under California law include:

  • Working for an employer with at least five employees
  • Working for the company for at least one year before taking leave
  • Working at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the previous 12 months
family leave california

Who is Eligible for Paternity Leave in California?

In order to qualify for paternity leave, you must be a:

  1. New father of a biological child
  2. New father of a child from a surrogate
  3. New father of an adopted child
  4. Partner of a pregnant woman

Child Bonding

A new father qualifies to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for child bonding, including with a biological newborn, a child who is newly adopted, or a child recently placed in the home through the foster care system.

In addition to taking leave for child bonding, a father can take leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. For example, if an employee’s spouse is pregnant with serious complications and needs full-time care and assistance, they might be able to take leave to care for their spouse.

How long is paternity leave in California?

State and federal laws provide up to 12 weeks for new fathers as part of family leave. Even if a father is eligible for 12 weeks of leave under both the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they still can only take 12 weeks of family leave.

Do I Have to Provide Notice in Order to Receive Paternity Leave?

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and most state-level statutes, an employee must provide notice of impending paternity leave. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) explains that you should typically give at least 30 days’ notice before paternity leave, though the “employer’s usual and customary policies” regarding leave may apply. 

paternity leave

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) notes that employers have a duty to inform new employees of their right to paternity leave. An employer who fails in this duty may not have an expectation that the employee provides sufficient notice of upcoming paternity leave.

These kinds of details can be important to the outcome of any benefits or damages you’re seeking. An experienced paternity leave attorney serving California understands these rules and will account for such details that you might otherwise miss.

How much do you get paid for paternity leave in California?

Some workers can qualify for up to six weeks of paid family leave, and you should discuss your qualifications for PDL with your employer or an employment attorney. Employees for the federal government receive 12 weeks of paid family leave to bond with a new child. When an employee takes paternity leave under the CFRA or FMLA, it is not paid leave.

Can employers refuse paternity leave?

If an employee qualifies for paternity leave, an employer cannot refuse it. An employer cannot terminate an employee for requesting paid family leave, and the company must leave a similar position open for when the employee returns. If an employer violates your leave rights, you can take legal action.

What Should I Do If an Employer Denies Paternity Leave in California?

You should hire an attorney if:

  • An employer denies your request for paternity leave.
  • An employer attempts to deprive you of the full amount of paternity leave you are entitled to (typically 12 weeks)
  • An employer fails to recognize extraordinary circumstances related to your paternity leave, such as the premature birth of a child (this could affect when you give notice to your employer)
  • An employer threatens to retaliate (or does retaliate) against you for exercising your right to paternity leave. 
  • An employer takes any adverse action related to paternity leave.
paternity leave in california

A lawyer will review your case and recommend a course of action aimed at restoring justice. The appropriate outcome will depend on your unique circumstances, and an attorney will detail every legal and non-legal option available to you.

Why an Employer May Deny Paternity Leave

There are many potential reasons why any employer may deny paternity. Some of these reasons may be technically legal but unethical and ultimately baseless. Other reasons are overtly illegal.

An employer may deny paternity leave because:

  • The employer is not familiar with California and federal laws guaranteeing paternity leave
  • The employer has nobody to replace the employee or does not want to pay the cost of hiring additional help
  • The employee did not give sufficient notice of upcoming leave
  • The employer believes that the employee is too valuable to be away from work for any prolonged period of time

An employer must have a credible legal basis for denying paternity leave, and there are very few. It is critical that you hire a lawyer to resolve your paternity leave-related problem so you can be with your child without worrying.

How an Attorney Helps Those Facing Unjust Denial of Paternity Leave

A lawyer can help you by:

  • Communicating with your employer or their representative, exploring any informal resolutions 
  • Taking any necessary legal action, including filing a lawsuit
  • Protecting your rights
  • Advising you throughout the process of your case

Some clients want to resolve their paternity leave issue amicably, remaining with their employer despite the differences of opinion. Others may want to terminate their employment relationship and seek compensation for damages.

An attorney will tailor their services and strategy to meet your needs and wishes.

Speak with a California Employment Attorney Today

If you have concerns about paternity leave and believe your employer violated your rights, you should not wait to consult a California employment lawyer at Mara Law Firm. Contact us for more information.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney David Mara who has more than 20 years of legal experience in employment law.

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