Paternity Leave Laws in California

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Welcoming a new member to your family is one of life’s most exciting and transition-filled times. You’re bonding with your newborn and adjusting to the rhythms of parenthood while possibly juggling work — it can seem impossible to handle everything at once. That’s why understanding California laws surrounding paternity leave becomes such an essential factor when navigating these first weeks or months. Keep reading to learn more and then contact our firm if you have questions.

Paternity Leave under The California Family Rights Act (CFRA)

Under the CFRA, many new fathers in California enjoy the right to take up to 12 weeks of family leave per year. This allows for time to bond and connect after a child is born, adopted, or placed into foster care with you. It’s critical to note that leave taken under this law is not paid.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also offers up to 12 weeks of paternity leave for those who are eligible. However, in general, more comprehensive protections are provided by CFRA. Fathers who are eligible under both the FMLA and CFRA do not receive 24 weeks of paternity leave; it is capped at 12 weeks regardless.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for paternity leave under CFRA, you and your employer must meet the following conditions:

Your Employer Must be ‘Covered’

CFRA applies only to companies employing at least five people. If your employer satisfies this element, they’re expected to comply with the guidelines set out under the law.

You Have Been Employed for Over 1 Year

Before seeking paternity leave in California using CFRA, you must have been an employer for more than one year.

You Worked Enough Hours Within The Last Year

Finally, taking advantage of this law requires that you worked no less than 1,250 hours during the 12 months before your leave.

Understanding your paternity leave rights in California ensures that you make the most of this essential time without worrying about job security.

When Paternity Leave Can Be Taken in California

In California, you have some flexibility regarding when to take your paternity leave. You can request to take all 12 weeks at once or spread out your time off. However, all time must be taken within the first year of your new child being born, adopted, or placed into your care.

While an employer cannot prevent eligible employees from utilizing paternity leave, they can prohibit you from taking all of your time at once; they have the ability to require you to take your paternity leave in blocks of two weeks at a time.

It’s essential to speak with your employer and/or the HR department as soon as you know you want to take time off, especially if you plan to take more than 2 weeks off at a time. This provides you with a better chance of being able to take the leave as you see fit.

You Might Be Eligible For Paid Leave

While paternity leave doesn’t offer paid benefits under CFRA, you may qualify for paid leave under The Paid Family Leave (PFL) Program offered by the state of California.

Under this program, you could be eligible for up to eight weeks of paid time off. In 2023, the average amount received under this program was $873 per week to those who were eligible.

If you’re expecting a new addition to your family, it’s crucial that you know and exercise your rights. The best way to do this is to speak with an experienced employment lawyer. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.