Baseball season recently started, and with it came an unusual controversy. Daniel Murphy, second basemen for the Mets, was criticized for missing the team’s opener and one subsequent game to make the birth of his first child. Major League Baseball rules allow up to three days of paternity leave, but Murphy faced disapproval even though he only used two.
These events fired up the conversation about paternity and maternity leave, not just in professional sports, but throughout our country’s workplace. Federal and state employment law has established rights to unpaid and, in some cases, paid maternity and paternity leave, but unfortunately employees are not always aware of what they are entitled to.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers with a new child, including adopted and foster children. The FMLA applies to public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees.However, employees are only eligible for FMLA leave if they worked for their employer at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months.
There is no federal requirement that employers provide any paid family leave, but several US states, including California, have provided payment options for paid maternity and paternity leave. Under California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, workers who contribute to the California State Disability Insurance (SDI) fund are entitled to six weeks of partial pay each year while taking time off from work to:
- Bond with a newborn baby, adopted or foster child, or
- Care for a seriously ill parent, child, spouse or registered domestic partner.
Beginning July 1, 2014, this will extend to care for seriously ill grandparents, grandchildren, siblings and parents-in-law.
Although paid leave is not guaranteed, after an approved FMLA leave is complete, the law does require an employee be restored to their job. Furthermore, it is illegal for a company doing business with the Federal government to discriminate against an employee in recruitment, hiring, firing, pay, benefits, training and assignments, and other personnel considerations related to pregnancy or childbirth.
If you believe you have been wrongfully denied leave or suffered discrimination related to taking leave, contact Labor Law Office, A.P.C. Our office has experience in virtually all employment law matters, and can assist you. We encourage you to call us at 1-877-219-8481.