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Taking advantage of paternity leave

State laws in the United States provide for paternity leave to allow new dads to take time off to be with their newly born babies. Here are some FAQs about paternity leave and how to apply for it.

What is paternity leave?
Paternity leave means leave taken by a father at, or immediately following, the birth of a baby. This leave is usually not paid for. However, some companies do offer new dads paid paternity leave.

How do I find out if my company provides unpaid leave?
You may ask your company’s human resources department. Federal law requires many employers to allow men (and women) staff members up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during the birth of a child under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Can I get paternity leave if I am adopting a child?
Yes, you can opt for FMLA leave, vacation leave, or sick leave if you are adopting a child. The leave will usually begin once the child arrives at your home. If you are adopting a baby from another country, it will begin from the time you leave to bring the baby home.

How and when should I apply for paternity leave?
You are required to put in your request for paternity leave at least 30 days from the date on which you want the leave to begin. Ideally, it is better if you give your employer an earlier notice. You can discuss it with your employer as early as when your spouse is in her first trimester.

How can I avail of more information on paternity leave?
You may contact:

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
Phone: (866) 487-9243