Paternity leave under the FMLA


Under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, many if not most Rhode Island employees have the right, under certain circumstances, to take a leave of absence from their work for up to 12 weeks in order to have and care for a child.

One item that might be overlooked is that, under the FMLA, fathers also have the right to take paternity leave, as the Act specifically allows for time off to "bond" with one's child, so long as the leave is during the first year after the child is born or placed in the employee's home as an adoptee.

Thus, if a Rhode Island father wants to take time off for paternity leave, even up to several months, he can do so without putting his job at risk. Of course, he will need to follow the applicable rules and procedures for taking leave under the FMLA. Also, not every Rhode Island employer is subject to the FMLA, and not every employee qualifies. An experienced Rhode Island employment law attorney can answer any questions in this respect.

Perhaps more importantly, fathers need to realize that, like all leave under the FMLA, an employer does not have to offer paid leave for 12 weeks; they need only hold the man's job open for 12 weeks. Many employers require that an employee on FMLA use their available paid time off if they want to keep getting paychecks while they are away from work.

Still, Rhode Island dads should remember that they too have the right to be at home with their newborn or newly adopted child. If an employer does not properly respect this right, then legal options are available.

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