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Is Paternity Leave Legally Required?

A recent New York Times piece looking at the corporate culture at noted that the company does not offer paid paternity leave even though the competition does. For example, Netflix recently announced that it is offering one year of paid paternity leave to their employees.

The reaction has been one of shock from the United States public: Don’t all companies now have to offer paid family leave in some form? The truth is: the U.S. does not even have a federal mandate for paid family time off. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act only requires companies to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave—paid leave is usually up to the employer itself.

This reality is especially shocking when you take into account Amazon’s reaction—that they do not need to offer paid paternity leave because 83 percent of American companies do not. Given how Amazon has shaped the American business model—and, indeed, the ability for smaller companies to survive—this has some arguing that we need to fix this problem with new laws to ensure paid leave is provided. Some of these suggestions have included pooling payroll contributions in order to create a pool of funds to pay workers for this leave. In addition, it has been shown that businesses benefit from offering the leave.

The Basic Benefits of Offering Paid Paternity Leave

The obvious benefit of offering paid paternity leave—and thus being able to compete with the employers who do—is the ability to attract the same caliber of employee candidates to an institution. It has also been shown to increase worker satisfaction, productivity, and morale, and obviously helps to “equalize” relationships by providing an opportunity to escape the traditional stereotype of women having to stay home to raise the children and men not having that opportunity.

Legal Protection in Florida

Florida law requires that the state shall not terminate the employment of any employee because of the pregnancy of the employee or employee’s spouse or refuse to grant parental or family medical leave without pay for a period not to exceed six months. The state also cannot deny an employee “the use of and payment for annual leave credits for parental or family medical leave.” This typically means that an employee has the right to use sick and/or vacation time as parental leave.

In addition, upon returning from parental or family medical leave of absence, employees shall be reinstated to the same job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and seniority, retirement, and other benefits that they had prior to their leave.

Contact Us If You Have Family Law Questions

If you have a question about paternity or your rights, find out how Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. can help you, your family, and the best interests of your children. Contact our offices in Fort Lauderdale to schedule a consultation.

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