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Time Off For Dad - Protections Under The Law

You love your baby and canít imagine putting your newborn in daycare, but you need a break.  Who ever thought that you would look forward to going back to work?  You want to be a good mother, but you miss your job, your coworkers, and having some adult conversation.

Or, maybe you absolutely hate the idea of going back to work, but you have already taken all of your Family and Medical Leave (or leave under the California Family Rights Act) and you canít afford to lose your job forever.  Itís time for you to return to work and you have not found a daycare provider you trust.

Well, what about dad?  While it is still uncommon for dads to take leave after the birth of their newborn, the law does provide many fathers with this right.  And, just as with moms, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate if a father exercises this right.

Both the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allow many fathers to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their newborn child.  The same benefits and restrictions apply to men as apply to women.  This means that mom can take 12 weeks right after the babyís birth and dad can take the next 12 weeks, assuming that both parents qualify for CFRA or FMLA.  As long as leave is completed within one year of babyís birth, each parent can choose when to take leave.

Dad may also be able to take leave to care for his wife if she is seriously ill during her pregnancy or after the birth of their child.  This right is also available under both CFRA and FMLA.

Exceptions to the law do exist.  For instance, if both parents work for the same employer, under CFRA, a total of 12 weeks of leave is permitted for both parents.  This means that mom can take 5 weeks and dad can take 7, or mom can take 10 weeks and dad can take 2, but there is a twelve week limit on the total amount of leave that can be taken.  Even in this situation, an attorney may be able to help so that both parents can take a full 12 weeks of leave time by looking at their rights under various state and federal laws.

The laws surrounding who can take leave and when are complicated and individual circumstances differ.  For example if mom takes leave because she is placed on bed rest during her pregnancy, and dad continues to work, dad may be entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA to care for their newborn and mom may not.   On the other hand, mom may still be eligible for CFRA leave to care for their newborn.  In addition, dad may use some of his FMLA leave to care for mom while she is on bed rest.  In this case, dad may have less time available to bond with his newborn under either FMLA or CFRA.

Whether you want guidance on how to tell your boss your pregnant, how to protect yourself from adverse treatment after becoming pregnant, or you just want to know the different types of leave you might be entitled to, Sarah Schlehr teaches seminars that are taught in a friendly, easy-to-understand format that will help you in your struggle to balance work and family.

To learn more about your legal rights during pregnancy and parenting, visit or call Attorney Sarah B. Schlehr directly at (310) 492-5757.

This Belly Scoop has been sponsored by Sara Schlehr, The Pregnancy Lawyer for you!


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Sarah Schlehr, your pregnancy lawyer






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