Is My Business Required to Allow Paternity Leave?
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Is My Small Business Required to Allow Paternity Leave?

paternity leave for small businessesMany states and the federal government require that some employers offer paternity leave.

Unpaid leave. The employer gives a father time off under specific circumstances, though there is no requirement for the company to pay for this time off. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which went into effect in August of 1993, provides paternity leave for eligible employees. Any employer with 50 or more employees is required to provide this time off if the father requests it with reasonable notice.

According to the FMLA, eligibility for paternity leave would be subject to a company’s written policy. Further, a business that has a paternity leave policy would want to consider running it concurrent with FMLA for employees that are eligible for FMLA.

Eligibility. To be eligible for paternity leave, employees must have been employed for the past 12 consecutive months and worked at least 1250 hours during the previous 12 months. State rules and requirements may differ. The federal policy requires that fathers are given up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period, unless the employer provides otherwise above this level.

Not a required benefit. Paternity leave is subject to the employer’s policy and is not a required benefit. If the paternity leave is covered under FMLA, the father’s health care and other benefits continue while he is away from work. In addition, during the time the father takes for this need, the employer must maintain his job or a job of equal pay and status. The FMLA requires that the employer allows the father to return to his previous job or an equivalent position within the company.

Set a clear policy. While your business may not fall under the requirements of FMLA, it may be in your best interest to offer some type of approved leave so that male employees have the same flexibility as female employees to fulfill their duties as parents. Giving parents the ability to care for their children can help them be less stressed and more productive when they are on the job. Just be sure to state a clear policy on paternity leave in your employee handbook.

PHOTO CREDIT: MARY SHUMAR

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