Paternity leave is a relatively new concept in the working world, but there are three states in the United States as well as some private companies that provide partial-paid leave to new fathers. Federal law provides unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The leave is available, whether it is to help with the employee’s own child or an adopted child. Most child-care professionals recommend that both parents take leave from their jobs for at least a month after the arrival of a new baby. It can save on child-care costs as well as give them the opportunity to bond with their new family member during the early days.
Few States Offer Paid Paternity Leave
Most states do not offer paid paternity leave, but it is still recommended for new fathers to ask their employer if there are any paternity leave considerations. It is better for the new father to ask the boss directly and not depend on the opinion of his peers because some people do not want to take paternity leave.
They are afraid it will hamper their career or they would prefer not to take care of an infant. Even if the company does not offer paid paternity leave, it may be possible for the parent to negotiate flexible working hours in order to spend more time at home. Some states offer unpaid programs that will protect the employee’s job during parental leave.
The first step is for the new parent to examine the employee handbook. If the company offers maternity leave, it has to offer paternity leave. In fact, it is usually called parental leave. Companies may offer eight or more weeks of paid parental leave.
There are other possibilities. For example, as long as the employee follows the requirements of an employee’s benefits policy, he may create a block of time with sick, vacation and other leave to create parental leave according to the federal law.
Some people prefer this because it allows them to be at work some of the time, which will help keep them in good standing with the boss. It is important for the employee to make sure the employer is not too inconvenienced by the extended absence.
Are You Eligible?
Before writing the paternity leave letter, the employee should make sure he is eligible. There may be terms and conditions given in his contract that relate to any kind of leave. In most cases, this means the employee must have worked for a certain number of weeks, months or years before they are eligible for certain kinds of leave.
In California, employees must be paying into the state disability insurance to qualify for paid family leave. There are forms that need to be filled out and proof of the employee’s relationship with the child, whether natural, adopted or foster. If an employee is not sure of his company’s policies, or whether he qualifies, he should speak to the Human Resources department.
If the person does not have any kind of paid leave, but would like to take a few days or weeks off work to help with the new family member, they may be able to take unpaid leave without losing their job under the FMLA.
However, not all employers are covered by FMLA, so the person should ask the Human Resources department if the company complies with the act. It may be wise for a person requesting unpaid leave to offer to work part-time or during specified hours.
The employer may be willing to allow the person to work half-days or only two or three days a week. If two people work for the same employer, there may be a limitation of the amount of combined leave they can take.
It is recommended to request paternal leave far enough in advance so that the employee and employer get all of their questions answered. Sending a paternity leave letter is the best option because it gives the employee the chance to explain all the circumstances surrounding the request. It also gives the employer time to make sure the employee’s work will be covered.
Below is a sample paternity leave letter. It should be a formal business letter and sent at least one month before the leave will start. The employee should keep a copy of the letter. It can be hand delivered or sent by registered mail.
Sample Paternity Leave Request Letter
Name of Employee
Address of Employee
City, State, Zip Code
Name of Employer
Name of Company
Address of Company
City, State, Zip Code
RE: Request for parental leave.
Dear Mr. Name of Employer:
I work in the company as a project manager. My supervisor is Name of Supervisor. This letter is a formal request for me to take parental leave for 30 days starting on the day the baby is born. My wife will deliver our new baby on or about DATE, and I would like to be by her side.
We have no other help at this time because my wife’s parents are too old to travel here and help, and my mother will come only a week after the baby is born. I am requesting leave more than 30 days before the required date.
I have referred to the employee’s handbook, and understand that I am allowed four weeks paternity leave with half pay. I have spoken to my immediate supervisor and plan to complete all of my current projects before I take leave. Name of Employee will oversee any new projects, and I will be at home and available to help any if required.
I look forward to your favorable reply to my application. If you have any questions, I can be reached at Phone Number or Email Address. Thank you for your consideration of my request.
Signature of Employee
Printed Name of Employee