What to Know

CA Paternity Leave

CA Paternity Leave. CFRA. Los Angeles, California.

If your employer denied your request for paternity leave or retaliated against you for taking paternity leave, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

We do not charge for consultations.

We represent clients in the state of California.

What is paternity leave in California?

Paternity leave laws in California were enacted to allow fathers to prioritize their family responsibilities. Paternity leave allows a father to take time off work following the birth of their child, adoption, or foster placement of a child.

The purpose of paternity leave is to ensure that the father who takes leave to care for and bond with a newborn or an adopted or placed child has a job to return to after the leave is over.

Who pays for paternity leave in California?

While California employers are required to provide health insurance continuation during paternity leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), the CFRA leave is unpaid.

However, you may be eligible for benefits through California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL), which provides income replacement for fathers on paternity leave through the Employment Development Department (EDD), the same agency that manages claims for unemployment and disability benefits. Wage replacement is paid for eight weeks of paternity leave.

Depending on income, the PFL program provides from 60% to 70% in income replacement benefits.

How long is paternity leave for men?

Fathers eligible for paternity leave under the CFRA are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave. A father who has worked for an employer at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months can take paternity leave.

Eight of the 12 weeks of CFRA paternity leave may be paid through California’s Paid Family Leave program, while the remaining four weeks may be unpaid.

California laws on paternity leave

CFRA allows fathers to take up to 12 weeks of paternity leave to:

  • Help their partner recover from childbirth;
  • Bond with the new baby; and
  • Care for and bond with a newly placed or adopted foster child.

Under current California law, all private employers with five or more employees are legally required to provide 12 weeks of job-protected paternity leave to new dads. Previously, CFRA only applied to employers with 50 or more employees.

California also has a similar law called the New Parent Leave Act (NPLA), which provides up to 12 weeks of paternity leave but applies to smaller companies with between 20 and 49 employees. NPLA protections apply to employees not covered by California's CFRA or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

What are the rules?

Paternity leave to care for or bond with a newborn or an adopted or placed child must be taken within a year of the birth, adoption, or child placement. Under the CFRA, California employers can require an employee to take paternity leave for a minimum duration of two weeks at a time. However, the CFRA gives an employee the right to take intermittent FMLA leave of fewer than two weeks on at least two occasions.

Who is eligible for paternity leave in California?

Not all fathers are eligible for paternity leave in California. First of all, you are not eligible for paternity leave if your employer is not covered by FMLA, CFRA, or NPLA. You are eligible for paternity leave in California if you meet the following requirements:

  1. You work for an employer that employs at least five employees;
  2. You have worked for the employer at least 12 months, either part- or full-time;
  3. You have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the past 12 months; and
  4. You are requesting paternity leave within a year of the birth, adoption, or child placement.

Note: Your company may have its own policy for paternity leave, which is why it is essential to consult with an employment lawyer.

Paternity leave: FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted back in 1993, is a federal law that allows fathers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave. The FMLA can be used to bond with a newborn or newly adopted or placed child as well as care for your spouse who has a serious medical condition (29 CFR § 825.121).

Paternity leave when you work for the government

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA), which was signed into law in December 2020, gives people who work for the government up to 12 weeks of paid time off work to care for and bond with a new child after the birth, adoption, or placement.

Paternity leave for federal employees

The FEPLA provides paid paternity leave to certain categories of federal employees after the birth, adoption, or placement of a child on or after October 1, 2020. To be eligible for parental leave under FEPLA, federal employees must also be eligible under the FMLA.

What to do when you are denied paternity leave?

If you are eligible for paternity leave under CFRA or FMLA, but your employer refuses to grant your request for leave, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced employment attorney. Your lawyer may advise you to sue your employer for denying your paternity leave.

Can a company fire you for taking paternity leave?

No, it is illegal for employers to fire, demote, deny a promotion, decrease pay, or take any other adverse employment actions against an employee for taking paternity leave. Contact an attorney if you were fired for taking paternity leave under CFRA or FMLA.

Can your position be eliminated?

Under CFRA and FMLA, employers are legally required to allow their employees on paternity leave to come back to their job. If returning to the same position is not possible, the employer must give the employee a job similar to the one they had before the leave.

However, if your employer can prove that your position would have been eliminated even if you had not been on leave, the employer may not be required to create a similar position for you.

My employer retaliates for requesting paternity leave

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees who request or take paternity leave. If you suspect that your employer retaliated against you for requesting leave, contact an attorney to discuss your options.

How to know if I have a valid discrimination claim?

Broadly speaking, there are two types of valid discrimination claims arising from paternity leave:

  • Retaliation for requesting or taking paternity leave; and
  • Gender discrimination based on the father’s decision to take time off work to bond with the child.

To prevail on your paternity leave discrimination claim, you must prove that you took or requested paternity leave and the leave or request resulted in the adverse employment action.

For more information

With questions about California laws for paternity leave or to discuss your claim, call us at 888-762-0297.

Consultations are free.

We represent clients in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Orange County, and Northern and Southern California.

Last updated on July 31, 2021.

Additional Resources

• Paid Parental Leave for Federal Employees

• California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and Paid Family Leave (PFL)

• Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

• Leave for Adoption or Foster Care