About to become a new father?
You have so many things to plan for and be excited about. Building the nursery, learning to change diapers, and learning to survive on little to no sleep.
But right now you have to figure out what to do those first few weeks after baby comes home. Can you stay home with mom and the baby and get paid? How much unpaid leave can new dads take? What will happen to your salary and benefits when you go back to work?
The short answer is that only a handful of U.S. states or regions (California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C.) have paid leave policies in place, and most everywhere else new dads will have to lean on federally mandated unpaid leave.
Let’s dive in to the paternity leave laws by state in the U.S. and everything you need to know about your career after baby arrives.
Federal family leave law for dads & new fathers
Let’s start with the basic, across the board coverage that’s available for (almost) everyone.
The Family and Medical Leave Act passed in 1993 says most new parents can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, with new dads and moms having the right to return to their same job/role, seniority, salary, and benefits after their leave is up.
But you may not even be entitled to that (such a generous offering! *eyeroll*) if:
- You work part time (less than around 25 hours per week)
- Your company employs fewer than 50 people
- You’ve worked there less than 12 months
Of course, any company, large or small, can choose to be more generous than this, but we’re just talking about what’s currently mandated by federal law.
The good news is that more and more companies are going above and beyond the meager requirements and offering real paid-leave options for fathers, including huge trend-setters like Google, Netflix, Walmart, Mastercard, and more.
But too many are still left in the lurch.
Let’s go into detail at the state level now.
Employees and new dads in Alabama have no additional state-level leave laws. They can only use unpaid leave if they quality for the FMLA (see above).
In addition the FMLA, Alaska also offers something called the Alaska Family Leave Act (AFLA), which provides public (state) employees with up to 18 weeks in a 12 or 24 month period of paid or unpaid leave for qualifying family and medical reasons.
That leave can be paid “when it is available to the employee through accruals, donations, or other means authorized by collective bargaining agreements or state statures.”
Read more about Alaska paternity leave and the AFLA here.
Paternity leave in Arizona does not go beyond the federal benefits dictated by the FMLA.
However, a relatively recent proposition called the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act does allow private employees to accrue (limited) paid sick leave, which can sometimes be put toward time staying at home with a new baby.
New dads in Arkansas can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave as per the FMLA, but as of this writing there are no paid paternity laws in Arkansas.
New moms who are state workers can now take up to four weeks of paid maternity leave, via a new bill, which may pave the way for better future policies for private employees.
California (paid paternity leave)
All new parents in California, if eligible, can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per the FMLA.
But California is one of the few states that offers additional paid leave for new parents and fathers, in particular. If you have had a new child (or adopted or fostered) in the past 12 months, have paid into the State’s Disability Insurance recently, and haven’t already taken Paid Family Leave (PFL) in the past 12 months, new dads in California can receive up to 6 weeks of paid benefits to stay home with their family.
Get more details and calculate your exact California paternity leave benefits here.
There is no paternity leave policy in Colorado outside of coverage already available from the FMLA (12 weeks unpaid for qualifying employees).
Individual employers in the private sector may offer more generous benefits.
In addition to the FMLA, Connecticut paternity leave also includes something called the Connecticut Family Leave Act (CFMLA), which offers more unpaid leave time for pregnant moms and new parents (16 weeks in a 24 month period).
Connecticut also requires employers to offer paid sick time accrual, one of the few states to do so, which can be used by new dads for paternity leave in a pinch.
Delaware currently offers no state-level leave policies for new dads. Paternity leave, as of right now, is still unpaid in this state and new fathers will have to qualify for the FMLA to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off.
Support is currently being gathered for a new policy that would grant paid parental leave to state employees.
Not much going on in the way of Florida paternity leave.
As always, parents and new dads have the option of 12 weeks unpaid leave if they qualify for the FMLA, but options outside of that are completely up to individual employers.
Georgia does not require employers to offer paid paternity or maternity leave beyond the unpaid 12 weeks dictated by the FMLA to qualifying workers.
The state of Georgia does, however, enforce paid sick leave under the Georgia Family Care Act, which can be used in some situations as a (limited) stand-in for paid leave.
As always, workers in Hawaii have the option of 12 weeks unpaid leave for paternity when they qualify.
Hawaii also has some other interesting options worth noting, like the Hawaii Family Leave Act, which forces certain companies to offer 4 additional weeks off. Hawaii does offer some amount of paid pregnancy disability leave, but sadly dads will be unable to directly benefit from this.
Idaho’s paternity leave policy leaves a lot to be desired. You won’t find any additional coverage or protections outside of what’s already offered by the nationwide Family Medical Leave Act.
Not much to see here. Illinois paternity leave benefits are limited to the 12 unpaid weeks offered up by the FMLA to qualifying workers and new parents.
Indiana is among the states who have recently passed new parental leave policies that supplement the FMLA, but only for state employees.
State workers (new dads) who have been employed by the state for at least six consecutive months can request 150 hours of paid leave (for full-time workers) or 75 hours of paid leave (for part-time) under this new policy effective in 2018.
Iowa doesn’t offer much for new dads. All workers who qualify can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the FMLA, and women at companies with more than 4 people should be able to take unpaid pregnancy disability leave.
But Iowa does not offer much else in the way of paternity leave for fathers.
Kansas offer standard FMLA benefits (12 weeks unpaid leave for qualifying new parents) as well as potential unpaid pregnancy disability leave for some women.
As of this writing, there is no formal paternity leave policy in Kansas beyond federal guidelines.
The state of Kentucky has very basic FMLA compliance (as does every state) and a simple pregnancy discrimination act… meaning you can’t be fired for being pregnant and taking time off according to disability or sick policies.
There is no state-level paternity leave or mandates paid paternal leave in Kentucky.
New parents and dads in Louisiana have access to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the FMLA, but the state also offers something called the Louisiana Fair Employment Practices Act (FEP).
FEP dictates that companies must give pregnant mothers the option of an additional 6 weeks to 4 months of unpaid leave following pregnancy and/or medical complications from birth.
As far as paternity leave, though, the cupboard is bare in Louisiana.
New parents in Maine, as everywhere in the United States, have access to unpaid leave according to the FMLA.
Maine also offers something called the Maine Family Medical Leave Act (MFMLA) which extends that same coverage to employees of smaller companies of 15 employees or more, giving them up to 10 consecutive unpaid weeks.
There’s no enforced paid paternity leave in Maine.
Like many other states on this list, new parents in Maryland can take advantage of either the FMLA or a state-level version of the same policy that also offers unpaid leave.
The Maryland Parental Leave Act (PLA) gives new dads who work for companies with at least 15 employees, 6 weeks of unpaid leave following birth or adoption.
Normal FMLA paternity leave practices apply in Massachusetts, giving anyone who qualifies (aka works full-time for a company with at least 50 employees) access to 12 weeks unpaid parental leave.
But Massachusetts also has its own supplementary policy that extends 8 weeks unpaid leave to people who work for smaller companies, as well (6 people or more).
Not much going on in the way of Michigan paternity leave. Workers will have to rely on coverage from the federally mandated FMLA or any policies instituted by their individual employers.
There’s no enforced extra paid or unpaid leave on the state level in Michigan.
Minnesota’s paternity leave policies are similar to many other states.
There’s standard FMLA coverage (12 weeks of unpaid leave for parents who qualify by working at companies with at least 50 people, full-time), and there’s a state level policy (Minnesota Parental Leave Law) that extends six weeks unpaid leave to workers at smaller companies (21 to 49 employees).
Mississippi paternity leave does not extend beyond the standard FMLA benefits available in all states. Again, that’s 12 weeks of unpaid leave if you work more than part time hours for a medium-sized company or larger.
Missouri paternity leave is similar to what you’ll see in many states, that is to say, there’s not much to see beyond the usual FMLA coverage and benefits for new dads.
However, state employees may be eligible for some paid parental leave, thanks to a new executive order. Under this policy, new fathers who are state employees (if they are the ‘secondary caregiver’) could get 3 weeks of full wage replacement.
Montana does not regulate any kind of mandatory paid paternity leave. New fathers in this state can utilize up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they qualify for the FMLA.
State employees in Montana also have some additional protections: Around 6 weeks of unpaid leave for moms and 15 days for new dads.
Not much going on in Nebraska when it comes to paternity leave for new fathers. Your best bet will be taking as much unpaid leave as you can afford through the FMLA if you work full time for a company with at least 50 people.
Of course, your employer may have more generous policies of their own you can look into.
Nevada’s paternity leave policy doesn’t go much farther than the FMLA. To recap again, that’s 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying new parents.
One interesting thing to note about Nevada is that parents of school-aged children are entitled to four hours off per school year to attend school events (like parent-teacher conferences) to encourage them to stay engaged in their kids’ education.
Not a whole lot going on here. New fathers in New Hampshire are limited to the protections provided by the FMLA, and there don’t appear to be any paid leave options for new parents in New Hampshire.
New Jersey (paid paternity leave)
In 2008, New Jersey became one of the first states in the country to enact mandatory paid leave for new parents.
New dads can apply for up to six weeks of semi-paid paternity leave (up to $524 per week).
Of course, new moms and dads can supplement this time off with some unpaid leave courtesy of the FMLA, which is available in every state to qualifying workers.
Nothing much to see here. New Mexico paternity leave doesn’t go beyond protections already offered by the FMLA, and there are no state-level policies worth noting.
Legislation has been introduced for paid family leave, but so far has not been passed.
New York (paid paternity leave)
New York has one of the best paternity and paid family leave acts in the country. It was passed in 2016 and became effective in 2018.
Who’s eligible? Private employees (new dads and moms) in New York who:
- Work more than 20 hours per week, and have worked for 25 consecutive weeks
- Fewer than 20 hours per week, for at least 175 days
In 2018, new parents who qualify can take up to eight weeks (!) of paid leave and receive 50% of their average weekly wage up to $652.96 per week.
Through 2021, the paid leave benefits in New York are set to increase each year in both length and maximum weekly payout.
You can get a lot more information on this groundbreaking policy here.
No state-level paternity or parental leave in North Carolina beyond what’s already provided by the FMLA at the federal level (12 weeks unpaid for qualifying employees).
North Carolina, like Nevada, however does offer four hours of leave per school year for school involvement, for parents of older children.
Nothing much here beyond what’s already provided by the FMLA. Paternity leave in North Dakota will come down to whether you can qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the federal policy.
The North Dakota Human Rights Act requires employers to make some basic accommodations for pregnant women who are still working, but there’s no paid leave or other support for news mom and dads.
Not much to speak of in the way of Ohio paternity leave.
Your best bet if you’re a new father in Ohio is trying to qualify, or planning ahead to qualify, for FMLA benefits. You can also ask or negotiate with your employer for some paid time off, but that will be at their discretion as they’re not mandated to provide anything.
Talk about a bare cupboard. There aren’t really any extra policies beyond the FMLA in Oklahoma when it comes to paternity leave or parental support.
If you qualify, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the FMLA, but don’t expect any other benefits.
Oregon, of course, enforces the FMLA and provides qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid paternity leave or maternity leave.
But they also supplement the FMLA with a few interesting policies under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA).
The OFLA allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave that can be stacked on top of any leave used during pregnancy. That makes women eligible for a total of 24 weeks (unpaid) leave.
Oregon also requires employers to provide paid sick leave, which can help new dads supplement their income during time off.
Nothing to see here, folks.
New dads looking for paternity leave in Pennsylvania will be limited to what’s provided by the federally regulated FMLA, if they qualify (ie have worked full time for a medium to large company for a significant amount of time).
Unfortunately, there are no formal paid leave options for fathers in Pennsylvania except what employers choose to offer on their own.
Rhode Island (paid paternity leave)
Rhode Island offers some redundancy of the FMLA with a state level law, as many other states around the country do. The FMLA offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying employees, and the Rhode Island Parental Family Leave Act (PFMLA) offers up to 13 weeks.
Rhode Island also allows parents to take up to 10 hours per school year off for school involvement and activities.
Finally, Rhode Island has newly instituted a program called Temporary Caregiver Insurance as a part of its disability insurance program, which provides up to 4 weeks of wage replacement (60% with a maximum of $795 per week) for workers who need to stay home to bond with a baby or care for a sick child.
Read more about eligibility and benefits in Rhode Island here.
Not a whole heck of a lot going on here in terms of South Carolina paternity leave.
New dads in this state will have to see if they qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via the federal Family Medical Leave Act, or hope their employer offers a solid leave program of their own.
There’s no state level paternity leave or parental leave policy in South Dakota beyond what’s already offered by the FMLA on a federal level.
Employees of the state itself may be able to receive an advance on their paid sick leave up to a year ahead of time, and may be able to use that as paid leave to bond with a new baby.
No paid family leave or paternity leave benefits in Tennessee. If you’re a new dad in this state, see if you qualify for any leave through the FMLA or if you can work out an arrangement with your employer for some kind of paid absence, even a brief one.
By now you know the drill. If you’re a new dad or new parent in Texas looking for paternity leave, your only option really will be to try to get some unpaid leave via the FMLA if you qualify (or if you can plan ahead in time to make sure you do qualify).
Employers can also offer more generous leave packages at their own discretion, but can’t be forced to do so.
No luck here, dads!
Utah only offers paternity or parental leave through 12 weeks of unpaid time off via the FMLA.
There is a bill currently in the Utah legislature that would provide 6 weeks of paid leave for new parents if passed, but so far nothing is certain.
Like many other states on this list, Vermont supplements the federal FMLA with its own similar legislation, guaranteeing unpaid leave and job protection to new parents and dads who need it during pregnancy and childbirth.
The Vermont Parental and Family Leave Law offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to new parents. This policy was formerly a Maternity Leave only policy, but has been updated to include dads.
However there are no paid leave options available in Vermont outside of what employers do at their own discretion.
Paternity leave in Virginia is pretty sparse, offering very little beyond existing FMLA benefits for new parents.
If you’ve worked full time for a while at a mid to large sized company, you should qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via federal law, but don’t expect much support in Virginia beyond that.
New parents in Washington can take advantage of either the FMLA or the Washington Family Leave Act (WFMLA) for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Both policies are remarkably similar and apply to companies of over 50 employees only, though all companies can of course, choose to do more than the mandatory minimum.
As of right now, there are no paid paternity leave options in Washington.
Washington D.C. (paid paternity leave)
Good news! In 2016, the District of Columbia passed a new bill that gives new parents (moms and dads) up to 8 weeks of paid leave, called the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLAA).
The law is quite generous, offering up to 90% of your weekly wages for birth, adoption, or fostering. (Though it doesn’t become effective until July 1, 2020)
Of course, workers in D.C. may also supplement with some unpaid leave via the FMLA which is available everywhere for qualifying employees. Washington D.C. also offers the DCFMLA, which allows for up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave.
Nothing of note in West Virginia in terms of paternity or maternity leave.
New parents here will have to rely on unpaid leave via the FMLA, if they qualify, or programs offered by their employers.
In addition the FMLA, Wisconsin offers its own state-level family leave policy which guarantees new moms and dads up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave.
It extends the coverage offered by the federal FMLA to employees who have been on the job a little less time (only 1,000 hours versus 1,250), making the unpaid leave a little more accessible.
However, there are no paid leave options for parents in Wisconsin.
And finally, we close the list with Wyoming, whose paternity and parental leave policies do not currently extend beyond benefits offered by the federal FMLA.
See if you qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave via this policy, or ask your employer directly for their own policy.
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