The Family and Medical Leave Act allows most mothers to take time off when she's had a baby, allowing her to bond with the child and be present for its first months. However, the FMLA also lets fathers take 12 weeks to take care of a new baby, an adopted child or a child who's been injured. It also gives fathers a chance to be there for a spouse who is injured or pregnant, but while many women use the FMLA, only 22 percent of men have taken advantage of it.
Perhaps this is because of a stigma, or perhaps it's just because they're unaware of their rights. So, how do you know if you're able to take advantage of the FMLA? You must meet these requirements:
- Employees who work for certain employers, like public schools, government jobs and companies that have more than 50 employees, are automatically eligible.
- Otherwise, you must have 12 months of work with the company, and;
- Completed 1,250 hours of work throughout the 12 months leading up to the leave.
Keep in mind that this leave is unpaid, but the employer is still required to give the worker health coverage during the absence. Of course, there are times when an employer will try to refuse family leave to a new father or punish him upon return because they can't live without his services for three months.
This is illegal. If you feel you've been denied or punished wrongly, an attorney may be able to help you protect your rights as a father.