Paternity leave: Options for dads-to-be

Do you want to take paternity leave if you’re a working father? Did you know that fathers can seek assistance from the federal government, states, and their employers? Here is some additional information to help you start appreciating your family.  

In 2009, New Jersey became one of the states which enacted law regarding paid family leave. In addition to the District of Columbia, 11 states will provide paternity leave as of 2023. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington are the additional states in question. Is a working parent who wants to take paternity leave out of luck if he doesn’t reside in one of those states? Perhaps not.

Federal legislation, state law, and his employer are the three major resources a father may turn to for assistance if he wants to spend more time with his newborn or adopted kid.

At the federal level

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides that firms with 50 or more employees, as well as federal, state, and municipal governments, must offer employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave. The employee’s return to the same or a comparable position with the same pay, perks, working conditions, and seniority must also be permitted by the company. You must have worked for your company for at least 12 months and 1250 hours the year before to be eligible for the FMLA.

One significant exception is if you are in the top 10% of pay earners at your firm and your absence will cause your employer significant financial loss; in this situation, your employer is free to refuse your request and is not obligated to maintain your position open until your return.

Additionally, if both parents are employed by the same company, you both have access to a total of 12 weeks of parental leave. It is crucial to remember that the FMLA only allows for unpaid leave; in fact, the National Partnership for Women and Families estimates that only 18% of employees are even eligible to use the unpaid leave allowed under the FMLA.

But keep in mind that you have some flexibility with how you utilise those 12 weeks under the FMLA—as long as your employer agrees, of course. Instead of merely taking a long vacation from work, you may, for instance, try to schedule three or four-day workweeks. Although you must legally give your employer 30 days’ notice before you intend to take a leave of absence, it is often preferable to offer even longer notice to enable a smooth transition both before and during your time off.

At the state level

At-Home Infant Care (AHIC), which pays lower-income parents a monthly stipend instead of going to work or returning to work with the assistance of a state child care subsidy, is another option to look into on the state level. Versions of the programme have also been tested in New Mexico and Montana. It began in Minnesota.

You can still think about making a unique request for time off and/or a reduction in your hours to your employer even if there isn’t a policy or precedent at work.

For instance, you can consider offering to work more hours now in return for less regular work hours tomorrow, or you might advise telecommuting if it’s possible in your line of work.


Your break from work may improve the kid’s health in addition to giving you more time to spend with your new child and fostering stronger family ties.