While maternity leave is a well-known concept and necessarily used by mothers to recover from a pregnancy and bond with their baby, paternity leave is perhaps somewhat less recognized.
A survey by Monster.com indicates it is increasingly used by new fathers. Their survey should that in 2007, 60 percent of new fathers used some type of paternity leave.
If you are soon to be a new dad, you may want to explore your options for leave. Generally, leave may be available from your employer, the federal government or your state government.
Your first and potentially best place to look for leave is with your employer. Some employers may offer paid paternity leave. Your employer’s human resources department can answer any questions and explain your eligibility requirements.
Paid leave may range from a few days to a week or more. Once you know what your employer’s policy is, you can make sure you correctly apply for the leave.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees.
For you to qualify for FMLA leave, your employer must have more than 50 employees within 75 miles of your place of employment. You also must have worked 1,250 hours within the last year. Again, your HR department should be able to answer edibility questions.
Minnesota State Law
Minnesota’s parenting leave allows either parent to take up to six weeks unpaid leave. The law is broader than the FLMA, in that your employer only needs to have 21 employees at any location, to be subject to the law.
No Penalty for using Leave
Both the FMLA and the Minnesota parental leave statue have anti-retaliation provisions, which ensure that once you return to work after your leave, you are entitled to have your old position or one that is substantially similar back.
This is to prevent an employer from allowing you to take leave, but then demote you or reduce your hours to “punish” you have having taken the paternity leave.
If you have been denied leave and you believe you were eligible, or you have suffered some form of retaliation since returning from leave, you may want to speak with an employment attorney. They can help you determine if the facts of your situation present a violation of the law.