What Is Paternity Leave, And How Long Does It Last In The US?

Paternity Leave

The birth or adoption of a child marks a start of a new chapter in a parent’s life. While most women are known to experience the obvious changes, experts now recognize it as a significant time for both parents. ‘

To assist families to thrive, early post-partum life or adoption includes bon-building between the child and the family. In support of this, many nations and organizations across the globe provide their employees with paid paternal leaves after childbirth. While maternity leaves are common, paternity leaves are still lagging behind. 

A 2014 International Labor Organization report stated that 184 nations provide parental leave. Of these nations 71 of the wealthiest nations provide paid paternity leaves. The lead is taken by Japan, South Korea, and Portugal, which grants the highest benefits to new fathers. 

In the United States, it is still in the process of providing paid family leave on a federal level. Only 21% of all US employees have access to paid parental leave through their employment

In the United States, paternity leave is seen as an employee benefit rather than the right for fathers. New fathers are often expected to prioritize work-life balance leaving childcare burden to new mothers. This negative standard towards children often sets the tone for interactions between the child and the father. 

It also deprives the father of fully participating in family life. It also establishes an uneven division of household labor that stays beyond the infant stage. With the implementation of the right measures and change of expectations from the younger generation of employees, a new outlook might be towards employee paternity rights in the US

In this article, we will be discussing the tenure of paternity leave in various states of the US and how it is crucial for American companies to provide the same to new fathers. 

What Is Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave is an employee benefit granted to expectant husbands, partners of pregnant women, surrogate fathers, or an individual who has been matched with a child for adoption

This leave ensures a period of weeks or months where a new father is allowed to stay home and bond with his partner and the new child. 

How Long Is Paternity Leave In The US?

In the majority of the states across the US, expectant fathers are entitled to a period of 12 weeks of unpaid job-secured paternity leave. But while time off for new fathers is an expected right, unpaid parental leave is simply too expensive for most families to afford. 

On the other hand, states like California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia have an active parental leave policy. 

Other states like Oregon and Colorado have such a policy in mind, and it is still yet to come out. 

What is the FMLA?

Currently, the federal governing law for parental leave in the US is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). With this legislation, every eligible american employee is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. These employees do not face any threats to their job security during this time. 

Federal Paternity Leave Laws In The US 

A 2012 US Department of Labor survey disclosed that 59% of American employees come under the FMLA. But this coverage takes effect in organizations with at least 50 employees within a 75 miles radius. 

These employees must have worked at least 25 hours a week for a minimum of one year with the organization. Alternatively, the employee may have worked 1250 hours in 12 months preceding the leave period. 

The FMLA leave grants maternal or family time off to encourage bonding with a new child. But while this appears to normalize child care for both parents, it is far from the suitable arrangement for new or adoptive fathers and mothers. 

A 2018 report provided by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked the US as the last nation among 41 nations to provide granted leaves. 

In comparison, Japan provides 30 weeks off at full pay to qualified new fathers. South Korea, on the other hand, introduced a policy in 2019 that entitled working fathers to 10 days of paid paternity leave within the first 90 days of a child’s birth. Likewise, Spain provides 16 weeks of paid time off for both parents at full compensation. 

Who Is Qualified For Paid Paternity Leave?

According to a 2020 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 20% of all workers have access to paid parental leave. 

In 2019, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This legislation contains the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA), an amendment to the FMLA. 

Besides organizations having a minimum of 50 employees, the federal law grants paid time off to new parents in the federal service. 

How Long Is Paternity Leave In The Army?

Federal employees receive 12 weeks of paid time off following childbirth or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care. These employees must have worked 12 months in a part-time or full-time role within the federal services. 

How Long Is Paternity Leave In California?

If you are a new father in the state of California, then you are entitled to receive 60-70% of the weekly wage earned in five to eighteen months before the claim starts. 

How Long Is Paternity Leave In NY?

New parents in New York are entitled to a cover of 12 weeks of paid time off. This might occur within the first 12 months with the infant or the adopted child. New fathers and mothers can receive up to 67% of the usual pay during the off. 

Final Words

Now you have a fair idea about the paternity leaves provided within the United States. Becoming a new father brings joy, but it is also your right to have the ability to take paid time off to bond with the new child and your partner during this time. 

Hope you have found this article and do comment your opinion regarding whether the US should provide paid paternity leaves to new fathers. 

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Nilanjana Basu
Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.

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