In California, fathers and partners are provided with paternity leave benefits that allow them to take time off work to bond with and care for their newborn or newly adopted child. Several state laws govern the rights and benefits for paternity leave. Here is what you need to know.
California’s Paternity Leave Laws
California has several laws in place to protect the rights of fathers and partners when it comes to taking leave for bonding with a child. The key laws to be aware of are:
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
The CFRA applies to companies with 50 or more employees and grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within one year following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. CFRA provides job protection, ensuring employees can return to the same or a comparable position after their leave.
New Parent Leave Act (NPLA)
The NPLA extends similar benefits to employees working for smaller employers with 20 to 49 employees. Under the NPLA, eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within one year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Like CFRA, the NPLA provides job protection.
Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program
The PFL program is a state-run initiative that offers partial wage replacement to eligible employees taking time off to bond with a new child or care for a seriously ill family member. While PFL does not provide job protection, it ensures that employees receive a portion of their wages during their leave for up to eight weeks. The wage replacement is generally around 60-70% of the employee’s regular pay, subject to a maximum weekly benefit amount set by the state.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
FMLA is a federal law that provides job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons, including paternity leave. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave within a 12-month period for various reasons, including the birth of a child, the placement of a child through adoption or foster care, and to bond with a newborn or newly placed child.
Eligibility and Benefits
To be eligible for paternity leave benefits in California, certain criteria must be met:
Eligibility for CFRA and NPLA
Employees must work for a qualified employer and have completed at least 12 months of service with the company and 1,250 hours within that time.
Eligibility for PFL
You must either be employed or actively looking for work at the time family leave begins and have earned at least $300 during the base period from which State Disability Insurance (SDI) deductions were withheld.
Taking Paternity Leave
When planning to take paternity leave, there are a few essential steps to consider:
- Notice and Documentation: Inform your employer about your intention to take paternity leave as soon as possible. Provide reasonable notice and be prepared to provide any necessary documentation, such as a birth certificate or adoption papers, to support your request for leave.
- Employer Policies: Familiarize yourself with your employer’s specific policies regarding paternity leave. While California laws provide the minimum requirements, some companies may offer more generous benefits or additional forms of leave.
- Financial Planning: Since paternity leave in California is generally unpaid, making financial plans in advance is crucial. Consider exploring other available resources, such as the PFL program for wage replacement benefits.
All employers should be well-versed in complying with state and federal paternity leave laws. If you believe your paternity leave is not being honored or you are being penalized for taking leave, speak to a Los Angeles employment lawyer. They can help you understand your rights and advise on your legal options.