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Family and Medical Leave Act: granting parental leave

Imagine being told that you must return to work the day after you give birth. Though most people in New York can't imagine an employer saying that, there are no requirements for smaller companies and employers to give their employees any paid or unpaid time off for the birth of a child. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, only employers with 50 or more employees must give their employees unpaid leave under FMLA. And, yes, you read that right, they are only required to provide unpaid leave.

Fortunately, many employers in New York are willing to provide paid time off to new mothers and fathers, but it is certainly not universal, nor is it mandatory. The fact that there is no guaranteed paid time off makes the United States one of only a handful of countries that don't ensure new parents can take paid time off following the birth or adoption of a child.

Yet for those employees who have access to FMLA leave, taking the time off may not be as simple as they may think. There have been some reports that new fathers who take FMLA time off may suffer negative consequences at work. Though their employers are not allowed to discriminate against them for taking time off, the impression is that they are less interested in or committed to their careers.

Fortunately, there are legal options available for men who have been discriminated against for using their FMLA time off. By consulting an employment law attorney they can better understand what those options are.

Source: New York Times, "Standing Up for the Rights of New Fathers," Nov. 8, 2013

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