Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is the time a father or partner takes off from work after the birth or adoption of their child. The U.S. currently doesn’t have a national paid family leave policy that covers paternity leave, but some states and private companies offer paid leave. Partners who qualify for the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can take unpaid time off.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA should not be confused with a comprehensive paternity leave policy, nor does it qualify as a parental leave statute per se. It’s more of a broad stroke law that allows parents to balance their careers with their responsibilities to their family.

Each year, eligible employees are provided with up to 12 weeks of unpaid but job-protected leave. The latter stipulation means you cannot lose your job for maximizing the policy. That is so long as you’re on the same page as your employer in terms of why you need to exhaust the FMLA.

The FMLA cites the following reasons for leave eligibility:

  • The birth and care of the newborn child of an employee
  • An employee adopts or foster cares a child
  • An employee needs to look after an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • An employee cannot work due to a serious health condition

Employees need to pass the following criteria to be eligible for FMLA leave:

  • Rendered at least 12 months of work for their employer or at least 1,250 hours of service over the past 12 months
  • Worked in a location where the employer maintains at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius

Check with your employer as they may have a more generous leave policy for new fathers.


For Additional Information:
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division 200 Constitution Ave, NW Washington, DC 20210 1-866-487-9243

U.S. Department of Labor

Compliance Assistance: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Links to various sources of information about FMLA.

Fact Sheet on FMLA
Covers the major requirements of FMLA and updates to the FMLA regulations.


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