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Can new dads take FMLA leave?

The Family and Medical Leave Act stipulates that pregnant women and new mothers may take up to 12 weeks of leave from work. Taking some time off from work is often necessary for a mom-to-be to receive prenatal care or recover while she is incapacitated, or for a mother to care for her brand-new infant.

With the roles of mothers and fathers constantly evolving in our modern society, men as well as women have expressed interest in taking leave to care for their children. We know that the FMLA allows leave for new mothers, but does it also allow leave for new fathers? The answer is yes--with a few important caveats.

Who is eligible?

Not every new dad is eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. A new father has to meet the same qualifications as any other employee for FMLA leave, meaning that he must work for a covered employer. This includes private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks; local, state or federal public agencies; and elementary and secondary schools.

To take FMLA leave, the new dad must also be an eligible employee-- that is, he must work for a covered employer, have been employed there for at least 12 months, worked 1250 hours during that time, and work at a location that has 50 or more employees.

Why might fathers take FMLA leave?

There are many reasons why men may want to take leave under FMLA. One reason is to care for their spouses during pregnancy and after birth. Another is to spend time with their newborn son or daughter. With the dynamics of modern families different than they once were, it is also possible that the new mother will return to work while the father tends to the baby.

To learn more about what FMLA leave for new fathers could mean for employers and employees, contact the skilled employment attorneys at Fiddler & Associates, P.C.

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