What Employers Need to Know About Paternity Leave
Paternity leave is not common in the United States. While the FMLA does provide some leave for both fathers and mothers, there are few states that offer fathers this benefit. However, it is a benefit that many fathers want and a growing number of companies are beginning to offer nascent paternity leave benefits.
States That Offer Paid Paternity Leave
California allows individuals to make contributions to the California State Disability Insurance Program. Those who contribute may take up to six weeks paternity leave at partial pay (up to 55% of weekly earnings). Under the program, fathers can apply for benefits anywhere between 9 and 49 days into their leave. The program requires fathers to wait seven days before receiving benefits after their date they apply for benefits.
Starting in July 2020, fathers in New Jersey will be able to take up to 12 weeks leave which is an increase from the 6 weeks under current law. Further, the state has raised the maximum weekly benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 85%.
In Rhode Island, the state's PFMLA allows for up to 13 weeks unpaid leave in any two year period. Employees can also take up to 4 weeks of paid leave at 60% of their usual wages.In New York, workers can apply for up to 6 weeks paid paternity leave at 100% salary. This can be extended to up to 12 weeks when combined with other existing leave benefits.
Many other states, cities, and municipalities have paternity leave proposals that are in various states of debate. These include proposed paternity leave legislation in Colorado, Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
Paternity Leave and the Family & Medical Leave Act
The FMLA, which became law in 1993, provides most new parents the option to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without the fear of job loss. However, the FMLA does not apply to all employees. In order to qualify, employees must have completed a minimum of 1,240 hours over the past 12 months at a company if the company employs more than 50 people. Because most businesses in America have fewer than 50 employees, and because many work part-time, this means that only about 60% of workers are entitled to this benefit.
Company Offered Paternity Leave
Company paid paternity leave policies are highly diverse. Companies are offering between 6-18 weeks of paternity leave. The rates of pay and requirements to qualify also vary significantly. Some programs offer full-pay, while others offer partial pay. Some allow fathers to split their paternity leave into multiple periods, while others require the leave be taken in a consecutive stretch. Almost all have minimal requirements to qualify that include a minimum number of hours and years worked at the company.
As more companies offer paternity leave programs, and more states extend benefits to fathers, it is clear that the tide is turning. Discussing your options now and preparing your benefits program to incorporate paternity leave will help you stay ahead of the curve and competitive in your industry.
We invite you to contact Greenlink Payroll at (480) 385-2525 with your questions regarding paternity leave. It's our pleasure to help you understand the laws in your state so that your business is compliant with all applicable regulations.