As a new parent, time off for the birth of your new baby is a given for the mother, but what about the father? Here are four ways to get your baby’s father time off for the birth of your newborn.
As an expectant mom, I'm sure you're undeniably eager for the approval of your baby's father time off for the birth of your new child.
You may be desperately wondering, "Can my husband go on paternity leave while I'm on maternity leave?"
This question is of great importance and validity with a new baby's arrival on the horizon.
Mom, dad, and baby will all benefit from having quality time together for bonding and recovering from the child birthing process.
A period of adjustment will be required to juggle the new demands that life with a baby has in store for you.
You should not have to sacrifice dad's help during those achy moments of recovery where you need not strain yourself.
Let's take a look at some of the questions that may be looming over you concerning paternity leave for dad.
WHAT IS PATERNITY LEAVE?
Paternity leave is the right for a father, partner of a pregnant woman, surrogate father, or adoptive father of an adopted child who has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks to take a leave from work for a set period.
Depending on your situation, this could range from 2 - 6 weeks or beyond.
The leave will be available after the birth or placement of the child in the household. This time off will provide time for a father to care for and bond with his new child.
Studies have shown that paternity leave has an overall positive effect on mothers and children. It promotes better mental health for the postpartum mother and better physical health for the infant.
WHAT ARE THE AVAILABLE OPTIONS?
If your husband wishes to take time off from work to help you and bond with his new baby, then he can pursue a few different avenues. He can possibly pursue:
- Paid Family Leave
- Family Medical Leave Act
- Leave of Absence
Let’s discuss each of the options in more detail.
1. PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Paid Family Leave (PFL) is a type of leave from employment to care for a new child (or sick family member) while still receiving at least partial pay.
Six states, along with the District of Columbia, currently uphold paid family leave laws.
Suppose you currently reside in California, Massachusetts (as of Jan. 2021), New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington or the District of Columbia. In that case, your husband could be eligible to receive the benefits provided by PFL.
Also, Connecticut and Oregon have begun working toward implementing this benefit as well, but this will still take some time. It's anticipated that Connecticut PFL benefits will start in 2022, and Oregon PFL benefits will begin in 2023, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
You can also utilize this benefit if you don't live in one of these states. According to Paid Family Leave in the U.S, some employers have elected to offer the Paid Family Leave benefit to their employees. It's referred to as Employer-Provided Paid Family Leave.
The amount of time off for PFL varies by state and is as follows:
- California - maximum of 6 weeks
- Massachusetts - maximum of 12 weeks
- New Jersey - maximum of 12 weeks
- New York - maximum of 8 weeks (rising to 12 weeks in 2021)
- Rhode Island - maximum of 4 weeks
- Washington - maximum of 12 weeks
- District of Columbia - maximum of 8 weeks
NOTE: If an employer offers Employer-Provided Paid Family Leave in a different state, then the amount of time off will be based on their discretion.
Eligibility criteria for PFL vary by state and are listed below:
Qualifications by State
- California - Earned at least $300 in taxable income over the base period
NOTE: The base period and/or the qualifying period are the first four of the last five completed quarters that precede the insurance claim.
- Massachusetts - Received wages during the base period that total 30 times the weekly unemployment insurance benefit rate
- New Jersey - Earned at least $169 weekly for 20 weeks or $8,500 annually in the year before taking leave
- New York - Employed full-time for 26 weeks or part-time for 175 days
- Rhode Island - Earned at least $12,120 in Rhode Island and paid into the insurance fund in the base period
- Washington - Worked at least 820 hours during the qualifying period
- District of Columbia - Has been a covered employee for at least one week in the year preceding the qualifying event for leave
For more information on the applicable laws in your state, you can contact your state’s Department of Labor. Here is a list of contact numbers for all State Labor Offices where you can find your state’s Department of Labor phone number.
They can answer any additional questions you may have and advise you of the appropriate time frame for filing your claim in relation to when you anticipate taking your leave and what steps to follow to file your claim.
NOTE: Job protection is not automatically coupled with PFL for some states. For these states, you would need to combine PFL with FMLA to ensure your employer will permit your return. (We’ll discuss FMLA next).
2. FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is unpaid, job-protected time off for specific family and medical reasons (including childbirth). This job-protected time off lasts up to 12 weeks in a 12 month period. You can use it for 12 weeks out of 1 full year.
FMLA is a United States labor law. It is NOT state-dependent like PFL, so it applies to all individuals of the U.S. who satisfy the following criteria.
The amount of time off for FMLA (mentioned above) for all states and is as follows:
- For all states in the U.S. - maximum of 12 weeks (in a one-year time span)
Family Medical Leave (FMLA) can be utilized by employees who:
- Have worked for their employer for at least 12 months
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the most recent 12 month period
- Work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within a 75 miles radius.
If this is true of your husband and his employer, then he is qualified to use FMLA.
For more information on the applicable laws, you can contact The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD). This department is responsible for enforcing FMLA. Contact them at 1-866-487-9243. You can also review the FMLA website at https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/.
Your husband should speak to his Human Resources department to find out the best time to request FMLA forms. (The HR department will provide the documents).
Your husband must complete part of the paperwork, and your physician's office must complete another portion. Once completed, it must be submitted to the HR department by the deadline they provide.
NOTE: For maternity leave, a mother can combine her FMLA with Short Term Disability Insurance in order to receive a form of payment during this unpaid leave, but a father on paternity leave CANNOT use Short Term Disability Insurance with his FMLA since he is not the one actually undergoing a medical situation.
3. LEAVE OF ABSENCE
A leave of absence is a period of time an employee can take off from work (typically unpaid) while still maintaining their status as an employee and their benefits during that time.
Your husband's employer will determine the amount of time off for a leave of absence. In my experience, it was a maximum of 2 weeks.
- Eligibility for a leave of absence tends to be on a case-by-case basis. It will be necessary for your husband to speak with his employer to request a leave of absence. They will decide after he explains his situation.
He can contact his employer's Human Resources department for more information on taking a leave of absence.
WHAT IF HE CAN’T GET ANY TIME OFF?
4. REDUCE WORK HOURS
Another alternative would be requesting a temporary reduction in work hours. Reduced hours will provide more free time for dad to bond with the baby and help with chores, which would be helpful if your husband can't get approved for (or afford to) take time off.
More free time to spend together as a family with your new baby is far better than nothing.
WHAT IF HE CAN ONLY GET UNPAID TIME OFF?
APPLY FOR A DOVE GRANT
As a new father, your husband could receive a $5000 grant funded by Dove to allow him to have time to bond with the baby without being forced to decide between being present with your newborn or receiving a paycheck.
Dove has made a $1 million commitment to fund paid paternity leave for fathers who are not offered paid paternity leave through their workplace. If your husband wishes to apply for this grant, you can follow the Dove Paternity Leave Fund link to fill out the application.
Other options are:
- Start saving money before the baby's birth that will cover the cost of income that you will miss.
- Apply for a small, low-interest loan that will cover the amount of pay you would sacrifice during the unpaid time off. Bestegg.com is an accredited site that can check your rates without affecting your credit score and has a personal loan section specifically related to providing for a baby.
After all that has worked itself out, enjoy that sweet baby of yours.