Family and Medical Leave Act does not protect paternity leave

When a woman gives birth, she is often given paid time off to rest, recuperate and care for her child. Many women in New York can take paid maternity leave and do so to bond with their children. Unfortunately, there are no laws that force employers to pay for that time off. While the Family and Medical Leave Act does guarantee that women can take up to 12 weeks off following the birth of a child, that time is unpaid.

What many people in Queens may not realize, however, is that the FMLA also gives men the same unpaid leave to care for a newborn. This means that, should a father wish to take time off with his child, he can do so. Fortunately for some men, their employers are giving them similar amounts of paid time off as new mothers, but paid time off is not a guarantee.

This law protects new parents from employers who fail to recognize the need for parental involvement following the birth of a child. Not only do employers need to approve reasonable requests for leave, but they must also protect the employee’s job for when he or she returns.

Just because these laws are in place, however, does not mean that everyone considers parental leave to be important. Daniel Murphy of the Mets took two games off in paternity leave following the birth of his son this season, much to the anger of two sports broadcasters. Though Murphy did not use FMLA because Major League Baseball allows fathers to take up to three games off following the birth of a child, the criticism against him raises an interesting point. If someone of Murphy’s stature is being criticized for taking time off, are other men and women being unfairly targeted by employers for taking FMLA leave?

Source: New York Daily News, “Parents slam WFAN broadcasters Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa for mocking Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave,” Molly Friedman, April 3, 2014

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