Essentials of Family Leave and Paternity Leave in the USA

paternity leave

It is not easy to be a new dad in the United States of America. When it comes to paternity leave, it is still generally difficult for a father to bond with the new baby. Yes, there may be bills for family leave in America, but just a few cities and states have passed family leave laws. Everyone should understand that if there is no paid leave for new parents, children, families, and the entire society gets hurt.

Paternity Leave Laws (State and Federal)

Currently, only New Hampshire, New York State, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and California have laws that require employers to provide their employees paid leave. Washington’s paid leave law has been passed but it won’t take effect until 2020. For fathers who work in the rest of the US, they only receive paid leave if their employers are considerate enough to offer it.

The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), established in 1993, gives most new parents leave without the threat of being fired. Employees who qualify are those who have worked more than 1,240 hours and a year for a company that has 50 employees. Those who are employed by small businesses and those who work part-time are not counted. Just about 60% of workers in America can avail of the leave under the Leave Act. Sadly, the FMLA doesn’t require the employer to pay the new father while he is spending time at home with the new baby. Even if the father has a legal right to avail of the leave, he must be able to afford it.

Companies Offering Parental Leave

Here are some of the companies that offer parental leave to their employees:
• Walmart (offers family leave)
• Netflix (offers allow unlimited paternity leave to fathers during the first year the child is adopted or born)
Only 41% of American workers work for companies that give paid paternity leave and 9% of workers work for such employers. Usually, companies use paternity leaves to retain their employees whose experience, skills and knowledge are valuable. Employees who earn not as much have more difficulty in getting paid paternity leave. Despite many advocacies and proposals for passing the family leave bill, there is still no way for low-income employees to avail of paid paternity leave.

Paternity Leave Laws

Below are the paternity leave laws implemented by state:
1. California
• The state passed the very first American paid parental leave law in 2002.
• By 2004, parents were given 55% of their salary for a leave of up to six weeks.
• In 2018, parents were given 60% or 70% of their salary.
• Percentage may increase by 2021.
2. New Jersey
• Parents can receive two thirds of their salary for a parental leave of up to six weeks.
3. Rhode Island
• In 2013, it passed temporary caregiver insurance or paid family leave.
• The leave took effect in January 2014.
• Now, Rhode Island law gives 4 weeks of wage replacement at 60% of the employee’s salary.
4. New York State
• Most generous paid leave
• Parental leave can even start eight weeks after the baby’s birth.
• Parents receive half their salary.
• Weekly payment their salary rises yearly
• It is projected for the salary percentage to rise to 67% by 2022
5. Washington DC
• Depending on income, parents on leave can receive up to 90% of their salary
• Law will take effect in 2020
6. Florida, Ohio, North Carolina
• Passed their parental leave for their municipal employees

If employers give parental leave to parents, the family system and society, in general, will benefit. The government just needs to figure out how to fund it efficiently.

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