California Paternity Leave Laws 2024 Explained

California Paternity Leave Laws

Paternity leave is the time that an expectant father takes off from work to care for his child and the child’s mother. Both maternity and paternity leave are included in California labor laws as a part of California workers’ rights. However, in some circles, paternity leave is still considered somewhat taboo, at least when compared to maternity leave. It is important to understand California paternity leave laws as they exist today under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Paternity Leave and Fathers’ Rights

It is almost always expected for new mothers to take maternity leave to care for their new child, but not for fathers to take paternity leave for the same reason. Thankfully, California labor laws protect the rights of new fathers under two important legal acts:

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is federal.
  • The California Family Rights Act (CFRA), which is state.

Both statutes are established to protect workers’ job security when they have to take extended amounts of medical leave from work. The FMLA provides protected leave so workers can provide their ill families and/or children with love and support. The CFRA provides new parents with up to 12 weeks of parental leave if they need it.

The point of parental leave is to provide new parents with the opportunity to bond with their new child, whether it be through traditional childbirth or adoption. Both mothers and fathers deserve the chance to recover from childbirth or assist in recovery and get used to a new outlook on life as a parent. Paternity leave is no different.

How to Qualify for Paid Family Leave

In order to qualify for those 12 weeks of leave under the CFRA, the worker must fit certain eligibility requirements:

  • The worker must be employed by a company that has at least five employees.
  • The worker must be employed by the company for at least a year before the official start date of your leave.
  • The worker must have worked a grand total of 1,250 hours during the prior 12 consecutive months of steady employment. In other words, full-time, not part-time.
  • The worker must be the biological father, adoptive father, or foster father.

If you fit these criteria, you are eligible to take 12 weeks of parental leave when you need it. You don’t have to take all 12 weeks at the same time, but you do have to take all 12 weeks in the same calendar year that you had your new baby. If you are denied your paternity leave, you may want to consider consulting with an employment lawyer to see what your options are.

When to Hire an Employment Lawyer

The arrival of a child into your life is already a stressful, life-changing situation. The last thing you want to do is invite more stress into your life. However, if your employer is being irrational and unfair and denying you your basic rights as a California worker, it may be time to hire an employment lawyer, if only to discuss what to do about it. If you are dealing with any of these situations, you should consult with an employment lawyer:

  • Your employer has downright denied your paternity leave, regardless of the reason.
  • Your employer has refused to grant you the full amount of paternity leave you are owed under California labor laws (12 weeks).
  • Your employer fails to realize the gravity of your situation and does not consider the birth of a child as a valid reason to take an extended period of leave.
  • Your employer threatens to retaliate against you if you do take your paternity leave.


Q: Do Fathers Get Paid Paternity Leave in California?

A: Regrettably, paternity leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is not paid leave. However, you could check and see if you qualify for paid paternity leave under California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program. This program allows workers to be paid 60% to 70% of their wages while they take up to eight weeks of work off to care for an ill family member, bond with their new child, or participate in a qualifying event for a family member’s military deployment.

Q: Can an Employer Deny Paternity Leave in California?

A: If an employee qualifies for paternity leave under California labor laws, an employer cannot legally refuse them. Your employer also cannot terminate your employment based purely on your desire to take paternity leave. If your employer violates these rights in any way, you can take legal action against them. Legally, your job should be waiting for you when you feel like it is time to return to work. If it isn’t, consult an employment lawyer.

Q: Is California Paid Family Leave Eight or 12 Weeks?

A: California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program allows for up to eight weeks of partially paid family leave to care for an ill loved one, bond with a new child, or participate in a military deployment event.

These benefits are paid through California’s Disability Insurance program. To be eligible for the program, you must have paid into that program for the previous five to 18 months, not taken the maximum eight weeks off in the last 12 months, and brought your child into the world via childbirth.

Q: What Are the Parental Leave Rules in California?

A: The rules for parental leave in California are established by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). It provides all eligible California employees with 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with their new child. The act provides a guarantee that your job will be waiting for you when you return to work. If you are denied the job, consult an employment attorney to see what you should do next.

Paternity Leave Is a Valid Workers’ Right

If you are an expectant father and are planning to take some time off for your paternity leave, you have the right to do so. Your employer cannot deny your decision. If they do, they are violating your rights as a California worker, and you can take legal action against them. Contact the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez to schedule a consultation if you would like to know more about your workers’ rights.

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