Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, men have the option of taking unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

Traditional roles have greatly adapted to modern times and often it is Dad who stays home with a newborn baby while Mom rejoins the workforce.

The FMLA shows how greatly things have changed, considering that until 2004, only maternity leave for mothers was recognized under this Act. California was the first state to initiate paternity leave, with paid time off for up to six weeks for new fathers.

New Jersey and Washington have followed suit, but most states only follow the FMLA requirements and do not offer paid time off for paternity leave.

Are You Eligible for Paternity Leave?

In order to be eligible for paternity leave, you must work for a company with 50 or more employees, or work for a state or local government agency. You must also have been employed with your current company for a minimum of 12 months and have completed no less than 1,250 hours’ worth of work for the company.

You can be denied the right to resume your position with the company after paternity leave if you are among the top 10% of earners at the company and your leave would cause considerable harm to the company.

If you and your spouse work for the same company, a combined 12 weeks total leave is allowed between the two of you.

How Much Time Can Dad take Off?

Each state has their own laws that indicate the amount of time that a father can take off after birth or adoption of a baby. Some states allow Dad up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for baby or arrange for an adoption.

Some sates offer as little as 4 weeks, since the idea of paternity leave is still catching on with many companies. At the end of your paternity leave your employer must still have your position available to you.

Requesting Paternity Leave

If paternity leave is something that you would like to request, it’s a good idea to let  your company know a minimum o 30 days before the time you plan to take off.

It’s even better if you talk to your boss as soon as you know that you want to take this leave so proper plans can be made on everyone’s part.