What You Need to Know About Paternity Leave Laws in California

For parents, raising a young child is one of the most important, yet rewarding parts of life. Establishing a bond with your child should be the single most significant aspect of your life. Eligible employees are often denied paternity leave. In order to protect themselves against workplace discrimination, gay employees must understand their paternity leave laws. Here’s everything you need to know about paternity leave laws in California.

In California, employees can be given paternity leave. Employees eligible for paternity leave are entitled to 12 weeks of paternity leave. California employers with 50 or more employees must give their workers 12 weeks of paternity leave. But as of 2021, new laws have been enacted to further enhance paternity/family leave.

What Is Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave is time given to mothers and fathers to bond with and raise their newborn child. Paternity leave is common amongst gay couples who choose to raise a child. Since January 1, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a new bill that essentially eliminates paternity leave in California to give way to expanding on California’s Family Rights Act. This act Newsom has signed basically eliminates New Family Leave laws, and replaces them with CFRA rights. Under this new law, employers with 5 or more employees will need to offer at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. This law extends to employees that have worked 1,250 hours within the past 12 months, so partial employees would not be able to take advantage of this.

Employers are also required to offer more unpaid leave for other reasons. For example, if an employee has issues with family, medical issues, personal issues, and of course for paternity issues. Now also, if both parents are working at the same workplace together, the employer may not issue 12 weeks of leave for both of the employees. Each employee has 12 weeks of unpaid leave of their own.

Does my employer provide paternity leave?

The legislation is in place to protect paternity rights. The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and federally-mandated Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) require employers with 50 or more employees to give their workers 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave. Similarly, the CFRA now is extended to employers with as few as five employees, instead of the normal 20. Under the new CFRA, California employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for covered reasons. The CFRA is extended to all employees

Am I eligible for paternity leave?

In order to be eligible for paternity leave, male employees must

  • Have worked for the employer for at least one year
  • Have worked 1,250 hours within the past year
  • Have worked at a location that employs 5 employees within a 75-mile radius

As of January 1, 2021, the CFRA has taken over the Family Leave Act, allowing all employees who work in a company with over 5 employees to be able to take time off to take care of their child. The law states that all employees must be given up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in California. The new law also states that the company cannot deny an employee if they are in the 10% wage earners, nor were the employer able to cap the 12 weeks time off to a combined time when both spouses work together. In other words, this means that each employee gets 12 weeks of time off and not 12 weeks for both of them.

How much time do I get off for paternity leave?

California employees typically get up to 12 weeks of paternity during their child’s first year since adoption, birth, or foster placement. Mothers and fathers are entitled to the same amount of parental leave. In California, it is illegal to discriminate against parental leave based on sex.

However, women typically receive more time off work because of pregnancy. If a man were to be denied pregnancy leave, this would not be considered discrimination.

Will I be paid during my paternity leave?

By law, California employers are not required to compensate their employees while on parental leave. Therefore, most employers do not pay you during your time off. You can, however, request compensation that would have been used for vacation time, sick days, or PTO.

California, unlike many other states, has a paid family leave program. Parents are often eligible to receive partial wages during their parental leave. California generally pays 60 percent of employees’ wages for six weeks of their parental leave. Low-income earners may even be compensated up to 70% of their usual wages.

Will I return to my normal duties on the job after my paternity leave?

Your employer must reinstate you to the same or a similar position to the one you had. For example, if you worked as a corporate manager at a specific location, your employer cannot place you as a low-level employee 100 miles from where you worked. If you are in the top 10% wage earners in your company and have taken time off, your employer cannot deny you your job back and must reinstate you.

How do I request paternity leave?

Pride Legal advises California employees to give a minimum of 30 days’ notice to their employer when requesting paternity leave for a foreseeable event, such as adoption, birth, or foster placement. This way, an employer cannot deny one’s CFRA leave for not being asked in time.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been denied parental leave, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.