Pregnancy and Paternity Leave Under the FMLA

Our Los Angeles Employment Attorney Explains

The Family and Medical Leave Act is an important part of every American’s workplace rights. Enacted in 1993, the law provides up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for employees who need to take time off to tend to their medical needs or those of a family member. This legally mandated leave encompasses parents who are expecting the birth of children, as well as parents who have already welcomed their newborns into the world.

Using FMLA Leave

In order to use leave under the FMLA, an employee must meet certain criteria:

  • They must have worked for their employer for at least a year.
  • They must have logged at least 1,250 hours of work over the past year.
  • Their company must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the location where the leave-requesting employee works.

All parents have rights under the FMLA, including pregnant mothers and their spouses in addition to partners who anticipate needing to take time off to care for the child. Parents who are adopting or fostering a child also have the same rights and benefits as parents who are caring for biological children.

California Exceptions

Through the Fair Employment and Housing Act, California offers additional protections and rights to expecting parents. This includes mothers who are “disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” who must be guaranteed at least four months of disability leave. Additionally, this leave must be available regardless of how long the mother has worked for the company, and she does not have to be a full-time employee to qualify.

The Golden State is also one of the only states to offer up to six weeks of paid paternity (or family) leave alongside the states of New Jersey and Washington. The law stipulates that anyone taking paternal leave may receive up to 55 percent of their regular pay for a period of six weeks. This applies to all married couples, regardless of whether the parents are of different or same genders.

If you are thinking of requesting FMLA, FEHA or paternity leave, consider speaking with a Los Angeles employment attorney first. A qualified and experienced employment attorney can advise you on any potential complications that may arise in your leave request.

It should be noted that many employers do not allow employees to use both the federal and state family leave periods at the same time. Parents must typically choose between one and the other.

We Protect the Rights of California Workers

The law gives expecting and new parents certain rights. However, not all companies adhere to these regulations. If your employer wrongfully denied your FMLA leave, or retaliated against you for attempting to use it, contact our Los Angeles labor lawyers today.