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parental leave options

Parental leave- What are your options?

Having a baby or adopting a child is a huge milestone in every parent’s lives. The first few days with their new bundle of joy is crucial for bonding, learning a new routine and just figuring out this new world of parenting.  This is why parental leave is so important. According to a study that was done by the Pew Research Center, 69% of Americans believe that fathers need paid leave.

What are the differences between maternity leave, paternity leave, and parental leave?

Maternity leave is a mother’s time off of work taken for the birth or adoption of a child. Sometimes can be paid for, half paid or not unpaid for. It would depend on the employer. There is no federal law requiring that a business pay for leave but they have an obligation to accept up to 12 weeks of leave.

Paternity leave is a father’s time off of work for the birth or adoption of a child. In this United States, this leave is typically unpaid.

Parental leave is for both parents for birth or adoption of a child. This time off is meant to help get the new baby acquainted with its new home and help give time to adapt to the new changes of parenthood.

What are the laws regarding leave?

The U.S. only have one federal act that protects the right for leave in the event of birth, adoption or illness of a family member. This law is called the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA for short. It allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for both the mother and the father who are considered eligible. This means they are able to take time off without worrying they will lose their jobs.

As it is becoming a regular part of society, the laws are starting to change regarding leave and fathers are starting to take time off to be with their child and the mother. Currently, it is the employer’s who get to decide if they will provide paid leave with the exception of a few states.  California was the first state in 2004, to require paid maternity and paternity leave to all employees. As of today, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia currently offer paid time leave. Other states are working on similar bills, but in the meantime, fathers are using their vacation times, sick days or even taking unpaid time off to be with their families.

How do I find out if I qualify for leave?

Start by talking to your HR department. Most employers under FMLA are required to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave with the guarantee that you can return to your job afterward with no change to your salary, benefits, and/or seniority. Your HR department should be able to answer any questions you might have regarding your leave and go over the best options for you as well.

When should I request leave?

According to the FMLA guidelines, you are required to give your employer at least a 30-day advance notice, but it never hurts to start the process earlier in case anything additional is needed.  If you start earlier, it will help your employer to work out a plan that works for the both of you and make sure that it gets implemented when you are out.

What if my request is denied?

If you have questions about whether you qualify for leave under state or federal law or if feel you being denied leave that is guaranteed to you Rocket Lawyer can help you with our Ask a Lawyer feature to help answer your questions and know and understand your rights.

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